N$342-m Additional Budget

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Much Fewer Requests for Funding By Kuvee Kangueehi Windhoek The Minister of Finance Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila yesterday tabled a N$342 015 000 Additional Budget in Parliament. Introducing the budget, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said the Additional Budget was necessitated by shortfalls in the financing of certain ongoing projects as well as requests for new allocations that were made for urgent needs that cannot wait until the main appropriation next year. The minister said the Additional Budget is also in line with the State Finance Act, which requires that finances for improvement in the conditions of service for public servants, allocated under the Vote of the Prime Minister, be re-distributed to the rest of the votes and be approved in Parliament. She said she was not moving away from the new tradition of not appropriating additional funds over and above the Main Appropriation Bill as this supplementary appropriation bill is primarily aimed at redistributing funds already appropriated to different votes. She announced that N$190.8 million would be redistributed from Vote 2 of the Office of the Prime Minister to various votes. The amount was already allocated during the tabling of the 2006/2007 budget but was put on hold pending the conclusion of negotiations between government and the Namibia Public Workers Union (NAPWU). She said the negotiations have been concluded and the first phase has to be implemented during the financial year 2006/7. The implementation of the agreement with NAPWU includes the professionalisation and re-alignment of selected job categories at a cost of N$12.4 million. Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said that N$20.9 million would be appropriated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the last phase of the UN House Project. She said the project is an effort by the United Nations and government to construct an office tower to house UN agencies in Windhoek. Savings to cover this amount have been secured by the National Planning Commission from the Development Budget of a number of ministries, including the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Lands and Ministry of Labour. An additional N$132.6 million was allocated to four ministries. The Ministry of Finance was allocated N$80 million for the Medical Aid for Public Servants. The minister said during 2006/07, N$456 million was allocated to the Medical Aid but in the first seven months of the financial year, expenditures amounted already to N$307 million and the remaining funds do not cover the required resources. She said the shortfall is mainly attributed to the growth of membership for medical aid and that the overall civil service employment grew beyond what was anticipated. She added that to address the increasing expenses of medical aid, measures were put in place such as the rules for referral to specialists and other service providers by general practitioners. She also noted that the entire medical aid scheme is being reviewed in order to make it more sustainable while still addressing the medical needs of members. The Ministry of Prisons and Correctional Services was given N$8.2 million, while the Namibian Police will receive N$32.5 million. An amount of N$6 million was allocated to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism under the auspices of the Namibia Tourism Board. These funds are to be used for international marketing and to buffer risen costs due to the exchange rate of the Namibian dollar. Concluding her remarks, she called for a continuous commitment to move away from additional budgets and pointed out a positive trend that she observed. “This year, there were much fewer additional requests for funding than during last year, which hopefully is not just coincidence but reflects improvements in the votes’ efforts to stay within their estimated budgets.” She urged all stakeholders to continue the path. The Additional Budget motion was adjourned until next week Tuesday by Ben Ulenga.