The approved capital budget of N$32.5 billion for over the next three fiscal years will see government undertake 617 capital projects that are already in various stages of development.
The projects include construction of the much talked about new parliament building. The N$12.9 million allocated towards the new parliament project in this financial year would mainly fund the design of and documentation phase of the new legislative chamber, as stipulated in the development budget book.
Only after this process is completed would government know the exact amount needed for the entire project. This means the N$2.7 billion mooted in the media for this project could be way off the mark, depending on the final project design.
Various figures have been bandied about in the press, but Dr John Steytler, economic advisor in the Presidency, said the actual amount would only be known once the design of the project is complete.
Steytler also sought to dispel confusion surrounding the cost of the project, after NBC on Wednesday erroneously quoted him as saying that the new parliament would cost N$58 million. The national broadcaster apologised for the error, after it was pointed out that the N$56.9 million is in fact the medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) allocation towards the project.
The current medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) runs until 2019.
This means in the current financial year, N$12.9 million has been allocated, while a further N$43.6 million is allocated to the project for the next financial year. There are no funds allocated to the project in the final year of the current MTEF, Steytler explained.
Total funding allocated towards the project in the current MTEF is, therefore, N$56.6 million out of a total of capital budget of N$32.5 billion, which represents slightly less than one-fifth of a percent of the total capital budget.
“The bulk of the N$12.9 million allocated this year would go to the design of the project. It is only after the design is completed that we would have a clearer idea of how much the project would cost,” Steytler, who previously worked as a senior advisor at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), explained.
President Hage Geingob last week directed Vice-President Nickey Iyambo, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, Deputy Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, National Assembly Speaker Peter Katjavivi and the chairperson of the National Council, Margaret Mensah-Williams, to convene a joint press conference to explain the cost of the new parliament.
Geingob expressed concern over reports in the media that the cost of the project had risen to N$2.7 billion from an initial projection of N$800 million. Speaker Katjavivi has previously said that the new parliament project did not compromise other important social intervention programmes by government.
Steytler yesterday reiterated this by citing as an example that close to N$3 billion had been alloacted towards the construction and renovation of secondary and primary schools in the country. In addition, N$215 million has been availed within the current MTEF to construct houses for teachers, for which N$80 million has been allocated for this year alone.
“The N$80 million for one year is more than the N$58 million allocated to parliament over a period of three years. We can’t, therefore, say that the welfare of the people is compromised in this case,” he pointed out.
During the current MTEF, N$2.34 billion has been allocated towards sanitation in urban, peri-urban and incorporated/declared rural areas and N$1.5 billion for construction of hospitals and clinics.
In terms of infrastructure development, government plans to invest N$4.4 billion over the next three years towards the upgrading of the country’s ailing railway system, which is needed to cement Namibia’s position as a logistics and distribution hub in SADC and also to move bulk traffic from the road network and thus reduce congestion and improve safety on national roads.