Politicians’ salary bill hits N$100 million mark

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Windhoek

Taxpayers fork out over N$100 million yearly on the salaries of the country’s political class of close to 300 political appointees, which represents a N$40 million increase over three years.

This was revealed at State House on Monday when President Hage Geingob held his last media conference for the year where he took stock of his time in office so far and also responded to questions from the media regarding his own income, that of his advisors and other political office-bearers.

The Namibian reported earlier this year that the Public Office Bearers’ Remuneration and Benefits Commission (POBC) of 2012 revealed that the government was spending over N$60 million per year to pay for over 200 political appointees.

These include members of parliament, special advisors, regional governors and regional councillors, among others.
The wage bill of the 100 000 civil servants is currently about N$22 billion per annum.
Politicians have it the best of both worlds, from subsidized lifestyles and flying business class to staying in lavish hotels and hefty travel allowances on top of their monthly income.

The POBC has over the years claimed that politicians are underpaid when compared to their counterparts from other countries.

The public have however not taken lightly to these claims, especially servants who most of the time get increases which are below the inflation rate.

A bloated executive under the new administration has not made things easier either, but Geingob has reiterated that building a country is an expensive process and that with time expenditure will be reduced.
Geingob evaded the question on how much his six advisors earn and directed The Namibian to ask his officials in the presidency or somewhere else in the government to provide the figures.

The presidential affairs minister, Frans Kapofi, refused to give the amounts being paid to the presidential advisors when asked in the National Assembly earlier this year.

Geingob was also asked about his globetrotting since he took office despite him having stopped ministers from travelling unnecessarily.

“I do not know where I travelled excessively, the head of state is representative of the country and there are mandatory travels. Going to the United Nations as a new president is a must. I networked there and placed the country on the map and I introduced myself although I am known. Paris [France], when we are faced with climate change, are you saying that is excessive travelling?” he questioned.

According to Geingob: “I have been travelling since the 60s so travelling is not something I enjoy. Where I went was not fun and not even enjoyable.”

Earlier this year Geingob said: “Democracy, governance and effective service provision require supportive structures and institutions that come at a cost.” Following last year’s overhaul of the constitution, taxpayers were hit with a N$55 million bill to cater for the monthly salaries of the 104 members of parliament – an increase of N$14 million from the previous bill.

The amendments paved the way for MPs in the National Assembly to be increased from 78 to 104 and National Council from 26 to 42.

Geingob said government was not unaware of the rising wage bill but he said people should take into consideration that it includes salaries of the army and the police – sectors which are often isolated in other countries.
“We talk too much about the wage bill and we forget that Namibia is a unitary state with a central government. Ours is unique and you should remember that we are coming from a different background and we have a Namibian house to build,” he said.

According to Geingob: “We could have dismissed those from the old system at independence and brought in those who were left out. We are concerned about the wage bill too but it will come down as we go on.”

To the surprise of those in attendance and those who watched the press conference on the national broadcaster, Geingob diverted questions surrounding his tax-free salary when he said, “I do not know my salary.”
Although government preaches austerity, spending trends have proven otherwise the past months.

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