Education ministry the biggest CoW debtor

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WINDHOEK, 08 June 2015 - Minister of Education, Arts and Culture Katrina Hanse-Himarwa gestures while addressing staff and students of the Namibian College of Open Learning (Namcol) during her familiarisation visit to the institution. (Photo by: Joseph Nekaya) NAMPA

Kuzeeko Tjitemisa

Windhoek-The Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture owes the City of Windhoek (CoW) close to N$20 million in unpaid municipal rates and other arrears, city officials revealed to New Era upon inquiry.

Figures in New Era’s possession indicate that education ministry departments and branches that include, among others, schools and regional offices are the biggest debtors, owing the municipality over N$19 million.

This follows a revelation by CoW chief executive officer Robert Kahimise on Monday at State House that residents, government institutions, state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and businesses are indebted to the municipality for an amount in excess of N$500 million. The debts are for unpaid rates, taxes and other municipal services.

The education ministry is followed by the Ministry of Health and Social Services which owes just over N$18 million, the Ministry of Works and Transport with a bill of close to N$10 million and the Ministry of Defence that also owes close to N$10 million.

Topping the list among SOEs is the University of Namibia (Unam), which owes just over N$7.5 million, followed by the National Housing Enterprise (NHE) with N$7.2 million, the Roads Contractor Company (RCC) with N$5 million and the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), which owes just over N$4 million.

Other ministries that owe the municipality over a million include the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service, Ministry of Safety and Security, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Ministry of Mines and Energy, Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, and the Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and SME Development.

Other SOEs owing the municipality over a million include the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) and Electricity Control Board (ECB). Some government ministries and parastatals owe nothing or little or in some cases some overpaid.

Kahimise yesterday said the collective N$500 million owed the municipality has heavily impacted its day-to-day operations in terms of cash flow.

“We have to settle bills with NamPower, and NamWater on a monthly basis, meaning the city has to find other alternatives such as borrowing money to pay our creditors while we await our debtors to settle their outstanding accounts.”

Unlike Agribank, Kahimise said, the municipality would not involve debt collectors but would rather seek an audience with debtors or stakeholders to recover what is owed.

“The only alternative we have is to cut off services just like with any other customers,” he added.

On Monday Kahimise said over 60 percent of the city revenue goes to NamWater and NamPower.

Contacted for comment yesterday, Education Permanent Secretary Sanet Steenkamp said she was not aware of the ministry’s debt to CoW but would follow it up with relevant departments.

“Right now I am in a meeting with the colleagues of the finance department and I will brief them and revert back to you. In the meantime liaise with our public relations office,” she said.

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