PM delivers pep talk

A third of government institutions received a qualified audit from the auditor-general for the 2016/17 financial year, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila told accounting officers yesterday.

04 June 2019 | Government

Government's top accounting officers have been sternly reminded of their crucial role in managing Namibia's tight purse strings, tackling public-service corruption and ensuring accountability and service delivery to the public.

Addressing executive directors from government ministries, agencies and offices yesterday, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila stressed that one third of government institutions received a qualified audit from the auditor-general for the 2016/17 financial year.

She said although a number of government offices, ministries and agencies do receive a clean bill of health, “there are some negative findings which are consistently reported but which still remain to be addressed.” She said these negative findings “feature prominently and regularly in the reports.”

She called on executive directors to address issues raised in audit reports to ensure compliance with the Public Service Act and its regulations. On ethics and professionalism, the prime minister reminded the executive directors that a declaration of interest is mandatory for all staff and is important to avoid conflict of interest and to ensure professionalism and transparency in the public service sector. She urged them to review and update these declarations frequently.



Wages and corruption

Kuugongelwa-Amadhila also issued a warning on the wage bill, highlighting that at the national budget level, the “wage bill related costs take up almost half of the budget, excluding government medical aid costs.”

She told those present that they play a key role to reduce the wage bill “in order to free up resources to strengthen allocations to service delivery.”

The Prime Minister noted that Namibia's already stressed economic situation is worsened by the “skewedness in apportionment of resources between administration costs, mainly personnel related costs, and direct expenses for service delivery to the public.”

Kuugongelwa-Amadhila repeated her directive to enforce cost-cutting measures, which include limiting overtime work, managing domestic and foreign trips by staff members and insisting on travel plans from departments.

Further, she said the filling of vacancies and the creation of new job posts are limited to areas where service delivery would be compromised. She also addressed the high costs related to accrued leave days, saying staff must take leave days within a given cycle.

On the issue of ethics and professionalism, the prime minister said “reported incidences of corrupt practices in the public sector, whether real or perceived, are high and this is very worrisome.”

She called on executive directors to ensure that ethics committees as provided for by the anti-corruption strategy are put in place and to prioritise risk assessment reports as well as cases referred by the Anti-Corruption Commission.

She also warned that disciplinary cases “drag on for too long, sometimes resulting in prescription of cases and leaving perpetrators of violations not held to account.”



Buy local

Kuugongelwa-Amadhila further tackled issues around procurement, highlighting that contracts are often extended “due to lack of preparedness to call for the next tender.”

She noted that this does not only “lock government in otherwise expired contracts which may no longer be optimal, but it also undermines the system of procurement through which value for money can be harnessed.”

The Prime Minister underlined the directive that all goods and services should be sourced locally to the extent they are available, while also calling on the general public to strengthen local production of goods.

“I hope local businesses look at the demand of government and produce for the local market. We cannot continue to say that we are importing because these things are not locally available.”

Nevertheless, she said the current government practice of importing goods while local products are available “is undesirable as it discourages local production, which in turn hinders job creation efforts while also exerting undue pressure on our foreign reserves.”

Kuugongelwa-Amadhila concluded the public portion of yesterday's address with the executive directors, noting that to date the feedback from stakeholders on the voluntary 2% c contribution to drought relief efforts have been positive.

She further noted that the action plan for the rolling out of the drought relief programme is finalised and is already underway in many parts of the country.

She said members of the defence force have been mobilised to assist with vehicles and personnel.

JANA-MARI SMITH

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