Uninsured Government Car Accidents Waiting to Happen

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By Mbatjiua Ngavirue WINDHOEK A surprising fact that came to light during the Parliament’s Public Accounts hearings into the National Assembly’s books for 2004/2005 last Thursday is that the government’s 3 000 strong vehicle fleet is uninsured. This information came out in response to a question posed by committee member Elma Dienda (CoD) about three National Assembly vehicles that were involved in accidents during 2004/5. It was left to committee chairperson Johan de Waal to explain that it is government policy not to insure its vehicles since the cost of insuring such a large fleet would be too costly. The Public Accounts committee was discussing unauthorised expenditure by the National Assembly that year of N$660,450-85. The National Assembly spent almost double the amount it budgeted for transport, and overspent on remuneration. Secretary to the National Assembly Nama Goabab told the committee that although the expenditure was unauthorised it was negligible in real terms. In 2003/2004, the National Assembly’s unauthorised expenditure represented 1.8% of its total budget, while the 20045 unauthorised expenditure was 1.3%, meaning a decrease of 0.5%. Most of the over-expenditure resulted from an accident with a Mercedes Benz vehicle valued at N$600 000 allocated to the National Assembly by the Government Garage, which someone overturned. Goabab explained that the Government Garage continues to invoice government departments even after a vehicle becomes unusable after being involved in an accident. Financial Advisor to the National Assembly Emilia Mkusa told the committee that because of the three vehicle accidents, the National Assembly had to rent cars from the Government Garage that year. Committee member Moses Amweelo wanted to know whether there were investigations of the motor vehicle accidents, and that if negligence was involved those responsible would have their pay deducted. Mkusa replied that the National Assembly was still waiting for the outcome of police investigations of the accident the police had been carrying out since 2004. She assured committee member Chief Ankama that the National Assembly no longer has transport problems, as the government garage allocated it four cars permanently. Chairperson De Waal asked Goabab whether he felt the National Assembly had not allocated Parliament enough funds for remuneration. Goabab said the problem was that the National Assembly only allocated funds for 34 backbenchers that year. Unforeseen circumstances arose in May 2004 when former Minister of Foreign Affairs Hidipo Hamutenya and his deputy Kaire Mbuende suddenly found themselves on the backbenches. The National Assembly reduced its payroll by one person when backbencher Lempy Lucas was elevated to Deputy Minister of Foreign affairs, but this still meant a net gain of one backbencher.