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Friday 18 January 2019
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Treasury explains unpaid invoices

Government says it only promised to settle all outstanding invoices that government owed to service providers that were accrued during the 2016/2017 financial year-not those of the current financial year.
These were the words of finance minister Calle Schlettwein when approached this week, following cries by hordes of service providers who accused government of reneging on its promise. Some even claimed that they are owed money since the 2015/16 financial year, subsequently casting doubts on the minister’s statement.
Schlettwein’s remarks come a month after President Hage Geingob placed his head on the chopping block when he promised that that all outstanding monies owed to service providers, including to the construction industry would be settled by 31 August 2017.
To the contrary, however, it turns out that not all service providers have received what is due to them as per the President’s promise.  Schlettwein could only confirm that payment of all outstanding invoices that government owed to service providers from the last financial year.
“All the invoices that accumulated in the last financial year[2016/2017], that is what we promised to pay until the end of August and that has happened. Maybe there some service providers that have unpaid invoices for services rendered this financial year[2017/2018] that is maybe the case. But all the others have been paid. That is the record that I have,” briefly stated the minister.
Schlettwein could however not provide this publication with the exact figures as to what was paid to service providers at the end of August by the time of going to print.
Last month, local English daily, The Namibian reported that government paid the N$230 million of the N$3 billion it owed contractors across the board.  “About N$230 million was transferred from my office this week towards these payments. I do not know if the contractors received this money already, but it was the final payment,” Schlettwein was quoted by the last month. In the midst of the rough economic climate, the construction industry was hardest hit.
Earlier this year, the ailing construction was begging government to pay close to N$1.8 billion outstanding debt for work already done; with one-third of workers having been retrenched and an estimated 60% of companies that had either seized operations or downsized drastically. In June last year, a labour survey report made a shocking revelation that at least 1 252 employees were retrenched within three months by 76 companies countrywide.
To claims that the construction industry was hardest hit by the delayed payment of invoices, Schlettwein said: “I am not sure whether it is in fact correct to say the construction industry is the hardest hit.
Everyone who has not been paid is equally hard hit. And yes, we have been in touch (with the construction industry) as from last year December and then met very frequently. And we had agreements as to how we mitigate the problem.
They were very helpful and it was good to speak to them and the unions to see how we can go through this phase.”
Recently, Geingob attributed the accumulation of unsettled to weak revenue collection.




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