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Saara’s civil servants wage headache

Minister of Finance, Hon. Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila.

Minister of Finance, Hon. Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila.

The Minister of Finance, Hon. Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila has expressed concern at the “runaway” civil servants’ wage bill saying such a scenario is unsustainable and may lead to instability. She described the situation as a time bomb waiting to explode.
In the 2013/14 proposed budget, government’s operational expenditure has been set at N$37.2 billion, a 19.8% increase from N$31 billion allocated during the previous year. According to the finance minister, the increase is mainly due to adjustments in the public servants wage bill, including job evaluation and regrading.
Calculations done by Daniel Motinga, FNB Senior Manager for Research and Development shows that personnel expenses alone are expected to gobble up about N$17.5 billion this financial year, almost three times more than what will be spent on the provision of goods and services by the state.
The minister said in as much as the government wants civil servants to be well-motivated through  high salaries, it is also important that consideration be given to the affordability of the remuneration of civil servants. She said if salaries were left unchecked, this could lead to little or no resources left to make an impact in other areas.
The minister said: “As a finance minister and as a public official, somebody who is elected, I also, as I am sure others in the public service, feel duty bound to ensure that there is equity in the manner in which we share the resources of the state amongst the citizens of the country. If you have only the employees of the state taking up about half of the total income of the state in any given year when we number only 100,000 and there are 1.9 million other Namibians who have to make do with the remaining half, that is not fair. I think that is a time bomb waiting to explode because in a situation of significant backlog in important infrastructure and public services, these people will one day lose their patience and ask that their problems also be addressed. Then their demands may be put in a manner that we may not be able to respond to and there may be instability.”
Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said it was in the interest of everyone to make sure that aspect is addressed. “Besides, I have always said that we all need these services that we provide through investment of the remaining 50%; we all want our children to go to school, we all want to have roads to drive on, we all want to have energy, we all want to have doctors, nurses and medication in hospitals when we are sick. Now if we take up all the funds and leave the state unable to provide those services, it would mean that we will all not be well-served by that.”
According to the finance minister, Cabinet has made a decision to investigate options available to  contain “runaway increases” in personnel expenditure so that more funds are freed up to be deployed towards public service delivery. Cabinet has also approved a performance management system for the public service, one that would ensure that public employees deliver what they are paid to deliver. “Where that is not the case, they should not be entitled to pay otherwise if we have a situation where people must be paid because they need the money even if they are not delivering what they are supposed to deliver, then we will all run into trouble at some point,” the minister said.

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