By Obrein Simasiku
WINDHOEK – The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare has clarified the issuance of subsistence and travel allowance (S&T) saying it uses one rate for all its staff members irrespective of ranking.
Some members of staff in the ministry are claiming that Rate 3 of N$60 given to staff for travelling expenses is not commensurate with their ranking and duties.
When an employee is given an allowance under Rate 3, the ministry covers for accommodation and food on top of the N$60 daily allowance. But on Rate 2, the ministry gives a daily allowance of N$260 and only pays for either accommodation or food. However, under Rate 1 staff members are given a daily allowance at a flat rate of N$598 and are required to pay for own food and own accommodation.
Apparently, employees claim they are by default being given S&T at Rate 3, which is approximately N$600 – depending on the distance to their destination, while they were initially supposed to be graded under Rate 1 or 2 and they claim that top officials in the ministry receive huge amounts for S&T.
The Permanent Secretary (PS) for the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, George Simataa, refuted these claims at last Friday’s staff meeting, saying the claims are unsubstantiated.
However, he confirmed it is indeed true staff are being given S&T under Rate 3 for a reason.
Simataa cleared the confusion, saying he is also graded under Rate 3. He stressed that due to the ministry’ kindness and leniency, it decided to grade employees in Rate 3, taking into account the high price of accommodation and food.
“We give Rate 3 because accommodation is expensive and we make it cheaper and easier for our employees, as the government is the one paying for the food and accommodation thus the monies they receive on rate is just for themselves. While if you are graded under Rate 1, the employee solely takes care of all the expenses,” he explained.
“Who here can afford to be paying over N$1 500 or U$450 in a hotel per day? I am also graded under Rate 3 because of the expense of things, thus I find it much better if accommodation and meals are paid for me, instead of what they are claiming that we in the top management are getting a lot, it’s not true,” clarified the permanent secretary.
Simataa pleaded with those that are informed to educate others about how S&T is disbursed.
Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Doreen Sioka, used the platform to set things straight, saying she is not involved in staff processes and finances of the ministry.
Sioka said she does not have power to employ people, as it is the PS’s responsibility. She further stated that if she involved herself in the employment process she would interfere with the PS’s work and thus only receives reports on staffing and on other issues.
She explained, “The only power I have to employ here is my personal assistant and secretary that is all. When my tenure ends, so does theirs,” she said.
She reiterated, “I only debate for the money in parliament and once received, it goes to the rightful people responsible for financial administration.”