Money Shortage Constrains Cops

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Insufficient budget allocations to the Namibian Police were identfied as the main reason for ineffective service delivery by the police force – a problem that is still prevalent. Like during the financial year 2005/6 when the force suffered severe underfunding, this problem will continue to haunt the force in 2007/8, revealed the Minister of Defence and Security Peter Tsheehama recently. For the 2006/7 financial year, the budget allocation was N$784 041 000 as opposed to the requested N$817 429 000 while for the 2007/8 financial year, the budget allocation is N$731 684 000 against the ministry’s request of N$764 994 000, in terms of the rolling budget. “The ministry is operating under a tiny or insufficient budget allocation. “This means that the problems of the force escalated due to insufficient resources,” said the minister. Because of this problem, the force has been unable to purchase new vehicles making mobility almost impossible. Cases where police were unable to go after criminals have been reported especially in remote areas where transport is a major obstacle. Out of 1099 vehicles available to the ministry, only 834 are operational, according to official statistics. Tsheehama said a fleet of 20 new vehicles was procured for the VIP Protection Division in 2005/6. This the minister described as just a drop in the ocean compared to the 38 vehicles that had to be decommissioned last year. “Due to budgetary constraints, the police could not and cannot buy appropriate vehicles which can fit in some terrain like sand, mountains or bushy areas,” he said. In light of the very limited financial resources, purchasing of police and prison members’ uniforms and food for inmates in police cells have equally been affected. The Department of Police has 10 826 uniformed members while Prisons has 1 451 uniformed members. Apart from these areas that call for financial attention, Safety and Security submitted project proposals to the Ministry of Finance based on the programmes they need to conduct, including combating crime, border control, protection services and road traffic management. The financial situation of the force has been worsened due to loopholes in the system. The audit report of the auditor general describes the year ended 31 March 2005 as very bad and critical to the Namibian police and prisons services. “The financial control systems are said to be weak. As a result, the two departments overspent their budgets. Financial discipline has been lacking in the two departments,” Tsheehama said. Recently, the ministry came in for sharp criticism during a hearing before Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts where it was revealed that finance personnel in the ministry needed proper training.