Thursday 17 June 2021
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Geingob goes after politicians’ salaries to patch economy

In an attempt to heal the bleeding economy, President Hage Geingob has said politicians will have to lead by example and agree to a voluntary salary contribution of 2% this year.
The President said this yesterday in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) in which he disclosed that parliamentarians were still being consulted to see if they could possibly agree to this.
He said contributions will be taken as a payroll deduction, with the potential to raise a sizeable amount of approximately N$3.2 million.
“The funds will be channeled towards identified social programmes, as a demonstration of our personal commitment.
We are aware that the salary of civil servants cannot be adjusted without mutual consent. To this end, the Prime Minister is tasked to spearhead these consultations and eventual implementation of this intervention, if agreed,” the President said.
Geingob also said contrary to popular belief, the total wage and benefits of political office bearers represented N$160 million out of the N$29 billion wage bill.
This, he added, was 0.06 percent of the public service wage bill, including both houses of parliament.
“Government is currently the largest employer and I should caution that in an environment characterized by high levels of unemployment, attempts at downsizing should be treated with utmost care. It would be unreasonable to downsize overnight, as rapid reductions in the public service would only exacerbate the already high unemployment rate in the country,” he said.
Official opposition leader, McHenry Venaani said this was an indication that “we are in trouble”.
“Our country needs to reform or we shall perish. Without reforming public service this country won’t move forward.  The fact that you are taking 2% from me is an indication that we are in trouble,” he said.
Also commenting on this proposal, prolific analyst and academic, Ndumbwa Kamwanyah said money in itself was not the issue, but how it will be utilized in the face of rampant corruption.
He indicated that it was unlikely for most of the Swapo politicians to shoot down the proposal given that it was coming “from their boss”.
Opposition politician, Ignatious Shixameni however challenged Geingob to publish results of lifestyle audits carried out to verify politicians’ sources of wealth.
“Until we know what consequences these fraudsters shall face we shall be talking and nothing will come forth,” he said.
He also took Geingob to task on his trips.
The President said he was selective and denying certain invitations to cut his travels.
Said he, “I know how to save money. Ministers are required to justify their trips. I don’t think we are naïve not to know how to do things.”
Meanwhile, despite the crippling economic bind rocking the country for 10 consecutive quarters now,  Geingob painted a glittery picture of the situation, highlighting that his administration had lived up to expectations.
He exploited the opportunity to sell the country which he said was still intact, adding that  although there have been challenges along the way, he would not dwell on the failures.
He admitted that high expectation to deliver “prosperity to all Namibians” was a tall order.
“The Promise of Prosperity for All was not intended to create opulence and excess, in other words, we are not trying to create instant millionaires.
Instead, it strives towards building an inclusive Namibia, where those who have been disproportionately marginalized are included into the mainstream of our economy,” he said.
Having accepted that subdued, slow economic growth and drought had torpedoed his government’s effort to deliver, he went on the over-drive to highlight what he said where some of the milestones achieved so far.
Geingob maintained that bold steps have been taken to fight corruption.
He said in all instances and contrary to demands to “see the Big Fish caught”, a due legal process must be followed and permitted to run its course as far as corruption was concerned.
“Of the 26 cases handled, 19 have been completed and a total of 40 entities (individuals and companies) have been reviewed, to date. Of the 49.8 million Namibian Dollars assessed to be due to the Receiver of Revenue, 12.8 million Namibian Dollars has been recovered to date,” he said.
However, Venaani criticized him for failing to name, shame and prosecute especially those that have been found inflating tenders.
Geingob said according to the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), 7 813 reports were submitted during the period under review, of which 329 were referred to law enforcement agencies, for further action.
The value of these cases was N$9.2 billion, involving the top five offences of tax evasion, fraud, corruption, drug trafficking and illicit wildlife products, he said.

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