Windhoek-The days of some public servants initiating meaningless trips that add very little value to their work but cost the government hundreds of millions of dollars could be over following a meeting between Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and permanent secretaries.
Kuugongelwa-Amadhila urged permanent secretaries to work hard to cut personnel and related expenses, especially the much abused subsistence and travel allowances (S&T’s) and ‘overtime’.
Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said this during the opening of the meeting between her office and all accounting officers in the capital on Monday.
“Considering the tough and trying times that our country is faced with at the moment due to the economic and financial challenges, it is important that all of us work together with a common purpose and with increased commitment to meet this high public expectation of government,” said the prime minister.
“There is considerable uncertainty about international developments. Signals of rising protectionism and global political unrest may further taint the economic outlook,” she added.
As a result of the negative economic developments, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said, the country has witnessed lower tax revenue collections.
“This, in turn, prompted the government to adopt a fiscal consolidation strategy. We all have to contribute actively to this consolidation effort.
“This, however, does not mean cutting back on expenditure on the most pressing priorities,” she added.
She said that instead the government has to realise savings through efficiency gains and then direct such saving to important priorities to ensure “we secure the realisation of important policy targets such as those under HPP”.
“As accounting officers, you will have to take the lead and double your efforts to control expenditures within your ministries,” she stressed.
She said the auditor-general’s reports point to several areas that require improvements.
According to her these include failure by some accounting officers to meet deadlines for submitting statements of account or not responding to queries during audits.
“Several recommendations made by the auditor-general are many times not implemented. This erodes transparency and accountability in the administration of public affairs,” she observed
“I need to urge you all to do everything in your power to stick to address these issues with utmost urgency,” she instructed permanent secretaries.
Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said the government needs quality public infrastructure to increase the country’s productivity and maintain its international competitiveness.
She added that public investment supports the delivery of key public services, connects citizens and businesses to economic opportunities and can serve as an important catalyst for economic growth.
However, she said, the economic and social impact of public investment depends essentially on its efficiency.
“Improvement in performance and service delivery will require improvement in project management to ensure not only cost-efficiency, but also implementing targets and the enhancement of the impact of government interventions,” she said.
In this regard, the prime minister called on all government ministries to fully roll out the operationalisation of the performance management system to ensure that staff members are fully held accountable for meeting their performance targets.
She exhorted them to ensure their strategic plans are aligned to NDP5 and that there is a functional monitoring and evaluation of NDP5 interventions.