Namibia probes reducing retirement age to curtail wage bill

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Windhoek

In the quest to reduce the public wage bill, which recently hit the N$23 billion mark, Cabinet has proposed to reduce the early retirement age to 50 years from the current 55 years.

The proposal is part of Cabinet’s 11 recommendations on how to reduce the escalating public wage bill.
With over 100 000 public service employees, the public wage bill chews up more than a third of the country’s entire national budget.

In a statement Friday, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said Cabinet suggested to entice more people to go on early retirement by putting up attractive incentives.

“Investigate the possibilities of reducing the age of early retirement from 55 years to 50 years by making the retirement benefits of staff members going on early retirement more attractive,” says the document in which the recommendations are contained that was made public by the prime minister’s office on Friday.

Chairperson of the Public Service Commission of Namibia Eddy Amkongo could not comment on the proposed plans when contacted yesterday, saying he was not aware of the recommendations.

Apart from looking at the retirement age, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said, Cabinet had also resolved to set a limit on the creation of posts and to upgrade the human capital management system to make it impossible for ghost workers to sneak into the system.

In addition, she said the government will streamline and rationalize the multiplicity of bonuses and other allowances and increase the objectivity on the wage determination process and future increases by aligning these to the prevailing inflation rate.

To ensure planned training and development interventions, the prime minister’s office will implement a training needs assessment coordination mechanism.

There will also be functional reviews of each office, ministry and agency to determine staffing needs by focusing on their strategic positions in the context of developmental objectives.

With overtime and subsistence and travel allowance estimated to be close to N$1 billion per year during the current financial year, Cabinet has also proposed that more control should be exerted on excessive domestic and foreign travel and overtime work.
Figures contained in the Estimates of Revenue, Income and Expenditure document show that S&T claims by civil servants will rise to N$760 million during the current financial year 2015/16 and N$860 million in 2016/17.

The figure stood at N$590 million during the 2013/14 financial year.
This means the 23 000 civil servants would have pocketed about N$2.1 billion from 2013 to 2017 in overtime and S&T claims.
The prime minister has in the past expressed disappointment that “some public servants have developed an entitlement syndrome”.
She said some public servants feel entitled to go on trips to get S&T while some work overtime despite there being no clear outcome.

“Some people even get angry when they do not go on trips,” she said last year while addressing permanent secretaries.S&T and overtime are said to be one of the many ways used by civil servants to milk government of millions yearly, with some officials’ claims even surpassing their monthly salaries. – Additional reporting by Xinhua.

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