Political will or gimmicks?

15 March 2019 | Columns

A raft of cost-cutting measures aimed at curtailing spending in government was made public by Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila early last year.

The cost-cutting measures included limiting foreign travels to two trips a year for government officials, controlling the abuse of state vehicles and rooting out ghost workers, among many others. The premier went to the extent of saying that a government delegation travelling abroad should not consist of more than two staff members. It is now over a year since these cost-cutting measures were introduced and one really wonders if these processes have been duly respected and government expenditure minimised, especially when it comes to travel. This week, interestingly, the health ministry also jumped on the bandwagon by scrapping tea, coffee and biscuits for patients at public clinics and hospitals as of April. A directive issued last week by executive director of health, Ben Nangombe, informed all hospitals and clinics to suspend the serving of tea, coffee, juice and biscuits between meals, unless the items are crucial to the care of an individual patient.

The ministry claims it will be saving between N$50 and N$60 million annually under the new cost-cutting measure. Finance minister Calle Schlettwein has previously indicated that budget cuts were inevitable and necessary in order to ensure financial sustainability.

Almost every government department has been gutted by major cutbacks in the national budget and we have seen sectors such as education, sport and healthcare heavily hit. However, we are of the view that politicians, especially, continue with their globe-trotting antics, contrary to the so-called measures discouraging the travelling abroad of senior government officials. The public ought to know how much was realised as a result of these travelling 'bans' and what are the authorities doing to curb spending on luxury cars, entertainment, accommodation and the travel of senior government officials. The bottom line is that what is good for the goose is good for the gander, and ordinary citizens cannot continue suffering alone.

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