Rid the system of unnecessary funds

29 August 2019 | Opinion

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts has brought to the fore a number of accountability issues and concerns within government offices, ministries and agencies during its whirlwind tours around the country. One of the pertinent issues that cropped up during its oversight and monitoring meetings was the existence of so-called independent entities established within ministries. One such fund is the Land Acquisition and Development Fund, which committee chairperson Mike Kavekotora claimed was solely used to facilitate transactions for the government even though a finance system was already in place to purchase farms through the relevant ministry. Exorbitant amounts within the fund’s personnel expenses, under which the salaries are listed at N$1.2 million and N$5.3 million in 2016 and 2017 respectively, also raised the ire of MPs. Last week, those running the Diamond Valuation Fund were also hauled over the coals and asked to account to the standing committee after the auditor-general gave the fund an adverse audit opinion for the financial year ending December 2017. The DVF was established through an act of parliament of 1999 to, among others, defray the cost of unpolished diamonds. The DVF had played a leading role in the creation of Namdia, including allocating about N$46 million as start-up capital and paying N$3 million towards its rent, among others. Kavekotora likened the existence of some of these funds to a patronage system whereby jobs are created for the well-connected. For a government which is hamstrung by serious economic problems, one wonders why such “useless” funds are allowed to exist parallel to other government bodies that are equally capable. We have our priorities utterly misplaced here. As a parliamentary oversight body, the workings of the standing committee on public accounts play an important role towards greater budget transparency for improved accountability and governance. Therefore, its recommendations, including freeing the system of unnecessary funds and bodies, must be taken seriously by the powers that be, including other lawmakers as a collective.

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