By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Some 15 years after independence, delivery of service to the people still lags behind due to persistent bottlenecks of low efficiency levels, slow policy implementation, lack of follow-up action as well as duplication of duties. In short, this means implementation of policy has fallen short of expectation. In view of this, President Hifikepunye Pohamba during his recent address to permanent secretaries said they should return to their offices with renewed commitment and dedication in order to respond to the needs of the nation. Echoing the President’s sentiment, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Calle Schlettwein admitted that service delivery is lagging behind. He however said though there is a need for change, this is being hampered by inadequate financial resources and a lack of human capacity. “It is difficult to implement policies without resources. It is (also) very difficult to deliver if there are weak links in the system which need to be strengthened,” he said. As accounting officers, permanent secretaries are expected to ensure that limited resources are used productively, by listing priority areas for development to take place. Sentiment has been that the pro-poor pro-people approach being desired by Government must be sustained and at what Schlettwein terms “affordable levels”. The Finance PS is further of the opinion that if this is not done effectively and efficiently, then it is set to fail. “We are setting ourselves up to fail. Therefore, we must decide on priorities like building schools and at the same time fund them with resources at hand to do that.” He said the entire concept of service delivery could also be affective if scarce resources are diverted from bailing out inefficient state institutions and parastatals – (otherwise) “we will not be able to deliver”. On the issue of the duplication of duties, President Pohamba has been calling for doing way with such repetitions in the system by eradicating possible overlaps. It is only in this manner that the public service could provide a service that is of good value for money. Schlettwein says there is “a lot of fire fighting in our offices that wastes money on addressing these issues”. He suggested this process be monitored and should be evaluated where it will become cheaper to intervene earlier than later. When the media asked about “unnecessary over-expenditure and huge S&Ts” by civil servants, Schletwein said that proper budget controls and improved funds training is the main solution to tackle this persistent problem. Secretary to Cabinet Frans Kapofi said the issue of some people failing to account for S&T is because “there has not been a reconciliation of records”. In the same vein, the President called on permanent secretaries to “significantly cut down on unnecessary local and foreign travel”.
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