Delays Retard Health Sector

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By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK The lengthy tendering process, delays in the appointment of contractors and delays by architects to finalize documents are some of the constraints the Ministry of Health and Social Services has to grapple with regarding capital construction projects. This was on Monday claimed by the responsible minister, Dr Richard Kamwi, when motivating Vote 13 in the National Assembly. “My ministry experiences constraints in executing these projects. As a result the execution rate of my ministry’s development budget for the 2005/2006 financial year was only 75%,” Kamwi said of his ministry’s budget allocation of N$1,373 billion. Most of the budget had been allocated to construction projects such as clinics, healthcare centers, mortuaries, regional directorate offices, district hospitals, extensions, upgrading and renovations at referral hospitals. “We can only manage to utilize funds allocated to us for development if we expedite and shorten the period from approval to actual commencement of capital projects in order to make MTEF planning a worthwhile exercise,” minister Kamwi, who on Saturday received a doctor’s degree from the University of Namibia, said. The Speaker of the House, Theo-Ben Gurirab, on Monday congratulated Dr Kamwi on behalf of all members of the National Assembly. According to Kamwi’s financial assessments development partners will contribute some N$233 812 million representing 71% of the total development budget of his ministry, particularly for capital projects. “Funds received from various development partners continue to make a significant contribution to the development of the health and social welfare sector, including the combating of HIV/AIDS, development of physical infrastructure and human resources, strengthening of health systems management mechanisms and other primary healthcare programmes,” he informed the House. Among his ministry’s major development partners are the Global Fund, UNICEF, WHO and USAID. In his motivation for House approval of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources’ budget allocation, the responsible minister, Dr Abraham Iyambo informed the House that the fishing sector is experiencing some economic turbulence. “The fishing sector experiences problems such as exorbitant oil prices, unfavourable exchange rates, distorted markets, strained labour relations and excessive availability and catches of smaller sized fish species particularly in the hake sub-sector,” Iyambo, who suggested some serious attention to certain incentives be given, said. He believes that investment incentives be extended to the fisheries sector, value added incentives be availed to ensure product diversification and that more market research be done. On a more optimistic note minister Iyambo said: “Mariculture has the potential to generate State revenues and to positively change the economic landscape of this country. However, it is essential to urgently introduce aquaculture investment incentives and also to urgently address inhibitive lack of access to capital for both capture fisheries and aquaculture development. There is a need to elaborately mobilise resources both locally and from bi- and multilateral arrangements,” he said of his budgetary needs of N$131, 914 million.