PM reveals plan to control colossal wage bill

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Windhoek

Strict control of overtime claims, limiting the expansion of the public service and keeping salary increments in check are some of the measures adopted by government to control the escalating public wage bill.

Government currently spends over N$23 billion annually on the salaries of more than 100 000 public servants.
The measures were made public by Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila while addressing staff at the first staff meeting for the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), when the media asked her to reveal the measures adopted by the government to control the escalating public wage bill.

The new measures were approved by Cabinet towards the end of last year.

The situation has become so dire that some ministries and government agencies spent a huge chunk of their annual budget catering for their operational activities at the expense of the development budget.

Kuugongelwa-Amadhila concurred that the expansion of the public service has resulted in funds being directed to operations at the expense of service delivery.

“We must control the expansion of public institutions. Many ministries want to establish new units and positions without justification. We will rigorously implement the regulations as prescribed by the Public Service Commission which stipulate that new positions and structures must be properly motivated before being approved,” she said.

The prime minister said those ministries that wish to create new units and structures would be compelled to abolish posts that are not needed.

“Some apply for new posts yet they have posts that have not been filled for years, which results in too much funds being used on operational activities instead of service delivery, hence the low implementation rate of projects,” said a worried Kuugongelwa-Amadhila.

Kuugongelwa-Amadhila also expressed concern over the fact that supervisors have become so acquainted with their subordinates that they cannot decline overtime claims.

“Some of the government employees take leave which they are paid for, but upon their return to the office they would rather prefer to work overtime instead of making private arrangements to catch up with their work. Some of them go to town during working hours and then want to stay after hours just to claim overtime,” she said.

Another measure revealed by the PM is the control of salary increments.

“The automatic salary increments we give are not linked to performance. Civil servants year in, year out ask for increments and if they are not given they stay out of office while teachers stay out of school,” she said.

At yesterday’s meeting the PM said she expects the OPM staff to be more outcome-driven instead of dedicating their attention to carrying out daily tasks and duties in a routine way.

“I believe we should ensure improved focus of all our actions on key deliverables. In addition, in line with the performance management system we should maintain regular feedback on progress made with regard to key deliverables,” she stressed.

She also told her staff that there is need to enhance the professional capacity of the office to rise to the demands of the public.

Deputy Minister in the OPM Christine Hoebes, permanent secretaries Nangula Mbako and Andrew Ndishishi, Cabinet Secretary George Simataa, Public Service Commissioner Eddy Amkugo and Anti-Corruption Commission Director-General Paulus Noa were all in attendance.

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