WINDHOEK – In a bid to cut high rental costs incurred by the 28 diplomatic missions, government is in the process of purchasing premises abroad for diplomatic purposes to the tune of N$944 million during the 2014/2017 medium term expenditure framework.
This investment plan is listed in the estimates of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) that runs from 2014 and 2017.
The public document indicates that government has already spent N$334 million in 2012 and N$110 million last year for the purchase and construction of diplomatic premises abroad.
Government will spend N$300 million for the next two fiscal years to purchase foreign premises before decreasing the expenditure to N$200 million in the 2016/17 fiscal year.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, told New Era yesterday that the cost of renting escalates yearly, therefore it will be much cheaper for government to purchase its own property.
“We are spending millions yearly on rent to maintain our missions. We have already purchased some property, although I do not know them by heart right now. In some places we are renting while in others we have bought the property already,” said Nandi-Ndaitwah.
Last year staff residences were purchased in Angola and England, while an official residence was bought in Switzerland.
The budget documents also indicate that the construction of a new chancery building is ongoing in Ethiopia and that an official residence has also been acquired in that country.
Information derived from the budget documents reveal that the official residence in Austria was refurbished last year and that renovations on Namibia’s chancery building in Cuba was completed. A back-up power generator was installed at the diplomatic premises in Egypt and a residence was purchased in Washington DC, USA.
Activities planned for this financial year include the purchasing and construction of properties in Ethiopia, Switzerland, Angola and England.
With regard to the possibility of opening more Namibian diplomatic missions abroad, Nandi-Ndaitwah said: “As we are discovering new areas of cooperation and as things evolve there is a possibility. It [new areas of cooperation] will definitely dictate for us to open missions just like others are opening missions in our country.”
The main responsibilities of the diplomatic missions are to represent and protect Namibia’s foreign interests and Namibians abroad by taking care of their welfare within the limits permitted by international law.
The missions are also responsible for promoting friendly relations between Namibia and the country of accreditation, as well as to develop economic, cultural and scientific relations.
Some of the countries in which Namibia has embassies include Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, China, Angola, Austria, Brazil, Cuba, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Germany, France and Russia.
There are high commissions in countries such as Japan, Malaysia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Namibia has two diplomatic missions in the United States of America, namely, an embassy in Washington DC and a permanent mission to the United Nations based at the UN headquarters in New York.
By Mathias Haufiku