Judiciary budgetary cuts affects capital projects

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Maria Amakali
Windhoek

The financial resources allocated to the Office of the Judiciary during the period 2016/17 fell short of the requirements to meet the expenditures related to salaries, payments of utilities and booking of court fees.

So much so, that the implementation of capital projects suffered as a result of the said budget cuts. Two capital projects had to be suspended.

During 2016/17, N$268,883,713 was allocated to the Office of the Judiciary. An amount of N$268,188,055.23, which constitutes 99.7 percent of the total allocation, was spent on operational expenses. This is according to the judiciary’s 2016/17 annual report.

During the mid-term budget review, an amount of N$9.5 million was suspended for the fiscal year. However, an amount of N$5 million was reallocated for personnel expenditure, although with such reallocation of funds vacant positions could not be filled due to a shortage of funds for the personnel expenditure.

The report further indicates that the budget cuts had some negative effects on the procurement of goods and services, with furniture and transportation regarded as non-essential budgetary items following the mid-term budget review.

Budget allocation for High Court fees stood at N$2.1 million. However, the High Court went over budget when total expenditure rose to N$3.5 million for the said year. The lower courts’ total fees expenditure stood at N$17.1 million, although only N$8.7 million was allocated for that purpose in the budget.
The fees include witness, interpreters, mediation, transcription, messengers and alternative dispute resolution fees.

According to the report, the payment of witness fees to individuals who were subpoenaed to testify in criminal trials constituted a large proportion of the operational expenses of the judiciary. Often, witnesses are compelled to appear in court, but end up not testifying for various reasons, according to the facts contained in the report.
When it came to staff training and development, N$420 694.72 in tuition fees was spent on the training and development of 432 employees, with a majority of them being women. A large component of trainees came from the lower courts and made up 57 percent of trainees.

The Office of the Judiciary performs a wide range of functions on behalf of the several offices, ministries and agencies without the required resources enabling it to do so, it was noted.
Some tasks, such as the collection of taxes, processing of marriage cases and administering, issuing and renewing of liquor licenses, have placed an added burden on the financial and human resources of the judiciary.

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