N$100m saved in travelling costs

The absence of foreign trips since March has resulted in a N$101 million cost saving for the state.

15 September 2020 | Government

OGONE TLHAGE

WINDHOEK

The government has saved more than N$101 million in travel costs by high-ranking government officials, including President Hage Geingob.

Geingob and other high-ranking officials have been unable to travel outside Namibia since March because of global coronavirus lockdowns.

Geingob announced in February that he would not make any foreign trips until June and advised ministers not to travel unless absolutely necessary.

A total of N$222 million had been earmarked for travel expenses by government officials. Of that amount, only N$15.8 million has been spent so far. This represents 7.1% of the total budgeted amount.

During the same period in 2019, the government had spent N$116 million of its travel budget of N$263 million.

The finance ministry could not provide any figures for travel specifically by Geingob’s office.

“Savings of N$101 million compared to last financial year’s expenditure for the same period [was realised]. The spending during this period was on domestic travelling, mainly on Covid-19 related missions,” finance ministry spokesperson Tonateni Shidhudhu said yesterday.

Wanderlust

The subject of Geingob's travelling was highlighted by The Namibian last year. The newspaper noted that the president had travelled to 16 countries since assuming the presidency in 2015. These destinations included China, Kenya, Mauritania, Canada, England, Ethiopia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Botswana, Malawi, Angola, Guinea and Portugal.

Up to the end of 2018, Geingob is said to have pocketed N$850 000 in subsistence and travel allowances.

According to Geingob, he travels because it is necessary to do so. Asked whether he was willing to cut his travelling expenses, he told All People's Party member of parliament Ignatius Shixwameni that he had been travelling since the 1960s.

“I travel because it is necessary …do you think at my age I enjoy travelling?” he asked.

Geingob further said that the time spent in transit made travelling undesirable but added that the use of a private jet made it a little better.

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