Minister of Finance Calle Schlettwein has revealed that close to N$1.3 million was spent on furnishing an entire floor of the new head office of the ministry in Windhoek’s Moltke Street. Furniture for only the minister’s office was procured at a cost of N$299 174, including value added tax (VAT).
Schlettwein was responding to a question by official opposition leader McHenry Venaani, who charged that up to N$3 million was spent on furniture for the Ministry of Finance’s new head office and that the newly furnished workspaces were under-utilised.
The finance minister noted that offices furnished included those of the deputy minister, secretaries, the permanent secretary, economic advisor, the board room, a meeting room, a waiting area and a tea room.
Schlettwein continued that in terms of the procurement process, during June 2015 the Tender Board approved an increase of N$2 million to the Ministry of Finance’s annual tender exemption to allow for the procurement of furniture and equipment for public office-bearers.
“The furniture in this instance was procured from Officeconomix Office Furniture. In fact, all this furniture was procured at a 20 percent discount below the recommended retail price,” said Schlettwein.
He added that the workspaces have by no means been underused since they were furnished a year ago. “In the interim, they have hosted meetings of the Cabinet Committee on Treasury, delegations from the International Monetary Fund and two credit ratings agencies, representatives of the diplomatic community, the business community as well as many aspects of the day-to-day management of the public finances of Namibia,” said Schlettwein.
“Perhaps next week, he (Venaani) would like to enquire after my favourite football team or maybe which brand of oats I like to eat for breakfast. Truly, on hearing this topic of discussion the Namibian public could be forgiven for accusing us parliamentarians of ‘fiddling while Rome is burning’,” Schlettwein jested.