The president of the DTA, McHenry Venaani, says it is not just the allocation that is the issue at stake, but rather social sector programmes, such as education and health, need a complete overhaul.
Venaani, in his contribution to the budgetary debate in parliament last week, said high budgetary allocations cannot and will not fix a broken system, unless they are specifically geared towards scientifically scrutinising, reviewing and overhauling that sector.
Education is the largest recipient in the 2016/17 development budget, with a combined allocation of N$16.20 billion for the year and N$52.28 billion over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).
The Ministry of Basic Education, Arts and Culture receives N$12.79 billion in the budget year (or 79 percent of the total allocation to the education sector), while the Ministry of Higher Education and Innovation receives N$3.41 billion in the budget year and N$11.48 billion over the MTEF.
“Our education sector needs a complete overhaul – of that I am convinced. The systems and programmes through which these services are delivered should be transformed if they are not working,” he added.
With the high number of unemployed youth who are not necessarily academically orientated, he said attention should also be paid to various sectors of the economy.
He said analysis should be made to establish which sectors need more vocational education. More training should then be provided for those sectors to equip the youth with skills that will enable them to contribute directly to Namibia’s future industrialisation, whilst at the same time, enabling them to earn a living and support their families, instead of depending on hand-outs or resorting to criminality out of sheer desperation.
Although the Ministry of Education has since last month taken a lead in cutting unnecessary expenditure, the United Democratic Front (UDF) has cautioned the ministry to spend the biggest chuck of the budget on the intended purposes.
President of UDF Apius Auchab said the nation would not grow should the money allocated to education and other sectors be spent on travel and subsistence allowance and other non-core expenses, rather than on intended purposes.
“Many of us can testify today that we are who we are because of education and that education in itself is the biggest empowerment tool,” Auchab said.
He also applauded government for implementing free education, both at primary and secondary level, unlike other African countries such as Kenya, who hope to introduce free education by 2021 only.
The Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture has made drastic cuts in foreign trips and overtime work, which will only be allowed if it is in line with the ministry’s annual development plans.
In a circular issued last month, the ministry said there were shortfalls in its remuneration budget, which now stands at N$458 287 938, and it, therefore, suspended all international trips for the 2016/17 financial year.
The ministry’s permanent secretary, Sanet Steenkamp, said had the wastage not been curbed, it would have resulted in the non-payment of salaries this month.
The circular said there is no need for staff to panic over their March salaries.
“We just have to put internal procedures in place to get the desired results. We just had our review and looked at our full expenditure report. We don’t want wasteful expenditure,” Steenkamp was quoted as saying.
According to her, these new measures will be reviewed in the new financial year, but the ministry will continue to scrutinise and curb unnecessary travelling.