Schlettwein calls for commitment to improve efficiency

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WINDHOEK, 10 May 2016 - Minister of Finance Calle Schlettwein speaks during the Government Leadership Seminar held under the theme Closing the Gap of Inequality in the capital this week. (Photo by Joseph Nekaya) NAMPA

Edgar Brandt

Windhoek-Ministry of Finance (MoF) staff have been reminded that the efficiency of the ministry’s service delivery depends on the commitment of each staff member in terms of daily output, the systems and technology at their disposal and the processes they employ.

Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein refreshed the minds of ministerial staff members on Friday during their second staff meeting for the year, emphasising that the weak link in the supply chain is where fault lines lie.

“Our risk-based management measures should eliminate potential fault lines and assimilate alternative remedial measures in the system, systems and ICT solutions are at the core of our service delivery. We should ensure their efficient functioning and have up-to-date back-up plans, including continuing skills development,” said Schlettwein.

Speaking to a packed auditorium at the National Theatre of Namibia, Schlettwein said the ministry’s new strategic plan, as aligned to NDP5 and the Harambee Prosperity Plan, is the basis for the performance commitments and individual performance agreements. Thus, he said, managers and supervisors are accountable for performance targets and should ensure that each staff member has a performance agreement that is owned and accounted for.

“I should emphasise the need for results-oriented performance management, collective ownership of our strategic goals and teamwork to deliver on our targets so that no single staff member of the ministry feels left out,” Schlettwein stated.

Friday’s second staff meeting took place a day after the ministry’s management team assessed the progress the ministry’s staff have made against targets set at the beginning of the financial year.

“We have developed a new five-year strategic plan and set strategic targets that are aligned to the Fifth National Development Plan (NDP5) and the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP2). These targets span all areas of our institutional and sectoral mandate; from economic policy advice to revenue management, expenditure and liabilities management, administration of public, private partnerships and public procurement oversight, civil service medical aid administration and the provision of common support services,” Schlettwein explained.

“The year 2017 and, thus, the current financial year, is equally an enterprising one for the Ministry of Finance. It calls for more urgency and an innovative approach to our routine functions. It calls for continuous monitoring of the outputs and outcomes for each one of us on a weekly, if not on a daily basis,” Schlettwein added.

He told staff that with government expenditure now aligned to a realistic revenue framework, the risks are now tilted on the expenditure side. However, Schlettwein cautioned that targeted expenditure cuts made as part of the consolidation programme have elevated pressures on spending and the risks of overspending.

“We should set out contours and forward-looking frameworks to contain spending within budgeted levels. Forward expenditure plans should articulate measures to keep spending within appropriated levels and without raising future unbudgeted liabilities.”

He said the new norm is to focus on what more can be done with less resources and increasingly achieving more efficiency gains, than focusing on what cannot be done.

“The cash management framework should constantly review and address spending priorities and risks and the incidence of accumulation of unbudgeted invoices should be eliminated. It [the latter] does not only show complete lack of financial discipline, but also undermines the budget process and the fiscal framework.

“The budget, as appropriated, is fully funded through budget revenue and proceeds from financing; the Treasury Authorization Warrants (TAWs) should be prudently crafted and coordinated with OMAs (offices, ministries and agencies) so that essential services are prioritised and not negatively impacted.”

He confirmed that the 2017/18 budget review will be tabled during the September session of parliament.

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