Govt Property Abusers Being Ringed


By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Although stocktaking of government assets started a month late as a result of logistical problems, the exercise to register the nation’s fixed assets such as land and government buildings is progressing well, according to the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication. In an effort to update data for a fixed asset register, the ministry has tasked over 100 people to compile data on government fixed assets worth billions. The initiative, launched in March this year, is an effort to root out corruption and the rampant abuse of national resources and assets scattered all over the country. The “Government Immovable Property Census 2006” aims to effectively register and ensure accountability for all the numerous dilapidated buildings, for example. In an interview yesterday, the Minister of Works, Transport and Communication, Joel Kaapanda, said that so far there have only been a few problems experienced since the undertaking started in March. “Sometimes people refuse to give the youngsters an audience or fail to give the correct information, but so far the process is going well,” said the minister. The ministry is also sending officials out to monitor progress. Currently, state assets have a combined value of N$18 billion. For a long time, the ministry was unable to collect much needed revenue from its properties due to the absence of a reliable and credible asset register. It also turns out that such a situation ultimately leads to the neglect of government buildings that are left vacant by tenants only to be vandalised by illegal occupants. “The lack of proper records has led to the illegal occupation of government houses which are now dilapidated,” said Kaapanda when he launched the census early this year. Lately, some people were evicted from government houses and flats in Windhoek, where they have been squatting illegally, leaving the works ministry with a huge municipal bill of more than N$100 000 for water, refuse collection and electricity. Seeing that Government can no longer tolerate such a situation, Kaapanda informed New Era, there is a great need to come up with a mechanism that will rid people presently living in government houses of irresponsible behaviour. Rates and taxes on such assets have also gone up considerably and an effective asset register system is therefore seen as the only way to monitor and address the situation in conjunction with other line ministries. Kaapanda noted that revenue generated from state properties is essential for developmental growth and the ministry should at all times ensure that such assets are being used resourcefully. “We have lots of land and properties out there but because it is not in our records we cannot sell or allocate these properties possibly even for commercial purposes to generate revenue,” explained the minister. It is anticipated that the ongoing “Government Immovable Property Census 2006” is likely to be completed during the next three to four months.