The Omusati Regional Council’s directorate of education, arts and culture has directed that all government vehicles in the directorate be grounded until further notice, citing far-reaching budgetary cuts.
The internal memo seen by New Era dated, May 26, 2017 indicates the financial status of the directorate for the financial year 2017/18 looks very bleak due to severe budgetary cuts in the public sector.
So even critical votes/items, which include transport and rentals, have not been allocated funds.
The overall budget ceiling of the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture has been reduced by three percent for the 2017/2018 financial year, its minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa said during her budget speech in April.
The ministry received N$12.3 billion in 2016/2017 and N$11. 9 billion for the current financial year.
With a staff complement of 41 735 employees, N$11.3 billion of this year’s budget is reserved for operational issues such as salaries. Only N$584 million is allocated as the ministry’s development budget.
The Omusati education directorate says there was no budget allocated whatsoever to purchase fuel and pay rental fees for government vehicles.
“Despite this predicament, the directorate continues to incur expenditure due to the activities set by various divisions, leading further into higher overspending,” reads the memo.
The memo further states it is of utmost importance that the directorate be financially very prudent.
It further directs that all government vehicles be parked at the regional office with immediate effect and keys and fuel cards be submitted to the transport office.
The region’s director of education Laban Shapange said there were 24 vehicles in the region but 19 are already back in the government garage.
The region is now left with one double cab, three single cabs and a sedan.
“If we secure funds from somewhere we will get the vehicles but if we do not the situation will remain the same for the whole financial year,” said Shapange.
He said that 95 percent of the vehicles the directorate is using are from the government garage, which they have been renting.
Shapange said he is busy consulting the head office in Windhoek regarding the situation because the regional management took the decision – because of the budget of this year – that no allocation be made for vehicles.
Officials say the directorate was spending about N$17 000 to N$18 000 for rentals per vehicle every month.
Nevertheless, the memo states that in case of a critical activity, which requires transport, a substantiated explanation should be given in black and white to support the allocation of transport.
“In the same vein it is hereby directed that inspectors of education limit their travelling as much as possible to the regional office, and to schools, and only to attend to limited, critical, scheduled activities which require their participation and attention,” states the memo.
“All the visits of inspectors of education to the regional office and schools must be done with consultation of the office of the director for the travelling to be approved,” further directs the internal memo.