Eveline de Klerk
Walvis Bay-Minister of Finance, Calle Schlettwein, says the government wants to cut the ballooning public servants wage bill by only filling essential posts. Hence, he says the government will assess current vacancies and only then employ where there is a need.
The public service wage bill for the 2018/2019 budget makes up 49 percent of the total budget, which translates to N$28.66 billion.
Schlettwein was responding to questions raised during his post-budget consultations yesterday in Walvis Bay, regarding the delay in appointments that remains a challenge for some ministries.
Civil servants during the consultation indicated that they are worried, as some positions have been vacant for years and it has been a challenge, especially in the regions.
Gertrude Usiku, the Chief Arbitrator in the Office of the Labour Commissioner (Erongo), said it has been a challenge for the institution to attend timely to all arbitration matters in the region, as only one arbitrator serves the entire region.
“We have been suffering, as most of the people have retired or resigned, and these positions are yet to be filled,” she explained.
In response, Schlettwein said there would be recruitment but it will only be looking at essential positions.
“We are not saying we won’t recruit. That will be wrong,” he said.
He then explained that Namibia has a ratio of one civil servant to 15 people, which is extremely high.
“However, we must look into vacancies that are not needed. Namibia has a ratio of civil servants of 1:15. That’s extremely high. We are also in the top five countries worldwide with the biggest wage bill,” he said.
Hence, he said Namibia is spending from an input side on wages.
He, however, pointed out that the intention is not to lower service delivery standards but drop the expense side in a way that it does no harm and in a way to keep the door open for essential employment.
“Only those vacancies that are really needed will be filled. There are timelines when you want to be efficient. If you don’t, the economic harm will be much worse. My point of view is that we should not lose the ability of capacity,” he further reiterated.
Schlettwein added that several civil servants often arrive late for work or are unproductive.
“Those are purely the inefficiencies we are talking about that increase our wage bill. At the same time, we do also have hardworking people but we must realise that our bill is extremely high and we need to bring it down,” said the finance minister.