Despite youth unemployment having risen to 46.1 percent, government ministries, offices and agencies have put aside millions of dollars for subsistence and travel allowance, refreshments, politicians’ entertainments and official refreshments.
This is according to budget documents presented by finance minister Calle Schlettwein in the National Assembly last week.
The document titled ‘Estimates of revenue, income and expenditure’ has revealed that State House has budgeted to spend N$53,6 million in S&T, N$400 000 for politicians’ entertainment and N$231 000 for refreshments.
The President’s office also intends to splash N$700 000 in official entertainment.
The document further revealed that the Office of the Founding President Sam Nujoma has been allocated N$1,07 million for S&T and N$50 000 for entertainment, while N$28 000 is allocated for refreshments.
According to the document, Nujoma’s office has a total number of 28 personnel, but only 26 positions have been occupied.
The Office of the vice president Nangolo Mbumba which is understaffed by 14 employees plans to spend N$850 000 in S&T while an amount of N$50 000 is budgeted for the entertainment of politicians while N$80 000 and N$45 000 is allocated for refreshments and official entertainment respectively.
The Prime Minister’s office wants to spend N$4,9 million in S&T. The same office will also use N$330 000 in refreshments whille N$194 000 has been allocated for official refreshments.
The money allocated for S&T at the prime minister is more than the sum of money allotted to the New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework (NEEEF) which seeks to ensure that Namibia’s resources are shared equitably and in a sustainable fashion.
NEEEF has been allocated N$400 000. The National Assembly has been allocated N$1 million for politicians’ entertainment. This amount is enough to remunerate about 10 people annually.
It has also allocated N$200 000 for refreshments and N$409 000 for official entertainment. Its S&Ts stands at N$13 million.
Officer of the auditor general has put aside N$60 000 for entertainment for politicians and N$40 000 for official entertainment.
The Frans Kapofi led ministry of Home Affairs has set aside N$7.1 million for S&Ts, with N$1,2 million of that amount going to the Office of the Minister which has a number of seven officials.
It has also assigned N$170 000 for refreshments, N$86 000 for official entertainment and N$26 000 for the entertainment of politicians.
The safety and security ministry has billed its S&T to N$6,5 million, N$63 000 for entertainment for politicians, N$40 000 for official entertainment while N$15 000 is for refreshments.
The same ministry is currently understaffed by 610.
Ministry of International relations and cooperation wants to throw N$12,6 million into S&T while N$220 000 and N$288 000 have been reserved for refreshments and official entertainment respectively. Further, N$64 000 of the ministry’s budget will go to entertainment of politicians.
Next is Defence ministry with S&T billed at N$10 million and nothing has been allocated for any other luxury categories.
Although the finance ministry has set aside a reasonable amount of N$2,7 million for S&T, the ministry which is responsible to pay the bills has allocated N$37 000 to refreshments and N$38 000 to entertainment of politicians.
The ministry has also allocated N$116 million to political party funding.
Education, Arts and Culture billed less than N$3 million for S&T however it has a questionable amount of N$36 000 for politicians entertainment and N$130 000 for refreshments.
Meanwhile the National Council has earmarked N$12 million for S&T and N$60 000 for official entertainment.
The gender ministry metes out N$5,2 million for S&T and N$110 000 for refreshments, N$120 000 is divided up for official entertainment with N$46 000 going to entertainment for politicians. In addition, the Ministry of health has awarded N$19,1 million to S&T and N$48 000 is going to entertainment for politicians.
Next is the Ministry of labour which has doled N$5.5 million to S&T, N$50 000 for official entertainment and N$60 000 will go to entertainment for politicians and N$123 000 for refreshments.
The Justice ministry has apportioned N$4,9 million for S&Ts and N$78 000 for politicians entertainment whereas N$10 000 is reserved for refreshments.
Industrialisation and SME development ministry has allocated itself N$5 million for S&T.
Urban and rural development ministry has allocated N$1.5 million to refreshments and N$38 000 for entertainment for politicians. N$9.4 million of the ministry’s budget is going to S&T.
The documents also revealed that the Ministry of environment and tourism will spend N$13 million in S&T and N$19 000 for refreshments while N$30 000 is budgeted for entertainment for politicians. Ministry of agriculture has planned to spend N$12.8 million in S&T, N$186 000 for refreshment and N$92 000 for politicians entertainment while N$50 000 is earmarked for official entertainment.
Office of the Judiciary has allocated N$158 000 for refreshments and N$8,3 million for S&T.
Documents also show that government has allocated N$1 million for the commemoration of Heroes’ day on 26 August. It has apportioned another N$1 million for state funerals.
These untoward allocations fly in the face of revelations by the Namibia Statistic Agency (NSA) last week that the country’s youth unemployment rate has risen by 2.7 percent from 43.4 percent in 2016 to 46.1 percent last year.
Speaking at the launch of 2018 Labour survey results released last week, statistician general Alex Shimuafeni said the country still had to do a lot to reduce unemployment especially among the youths.
“Unless we do something serious, the trend will continue to go up,” he said.
Asked what the justification of his ministry is to spend so much in food and luxury when the country is faced with so many problems is, urban and rural development minister Peya Mushelenga refused to comment saying that he was out of the country.
Agriculture minister Alpheus Naruseb referred the questions to the ministry’s executive director Percy Msika.
Reacting on the allocation, All People’s Party (APP) secretary general Vincent Kanyetu said politicians should be ashamed of themselves for giving themselves a lot of money for luxury while the nation is languishing and in poverty.
“They are too fat, they cannot even speak in Parliament. We did not receive enough rainfall this year; as a result that money was supposed to be used to buy food, medicines and chairs for the schools kids. Some of our expenditures are unnecessary,” he said.
S&T have been identified as one of the areas costing the state massively in terms of money spent and time lost from work.
Many public workers have been known to create opportunities to travel, because S&T is such a lucrative cash-cow, from which they make extra income to buy cars, houses and other luxuries.
There have been several calls from the general public to reduce what is viewed as too generous travelling allowances, especially to senior officials such as the President, whose entire cost of living is paid fully by the taxpayer.
In 2017 Prime-minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila urged executive directors to work hard to cut personnel and related expenses, especially the much abused subsistence and travel allowances and overtime.
“Considering the tough and trying times that our country is faced with at the moment due to the economic and financial challenges, it is important that all of us work together with a common purpose and with increased commitment to meet this high public expectation of government,” said the prime minister.
Finance minister Calle Schlettwein did not answer several calls made to his mobile.