Windhoek-Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila says the budgetary cost-cutting measures should not be seen as a constraint to performance, but should rather spur public servants to find innovative ways to meet performance targets.
Currently parliamentarians are discussing the Appropriation Bill which, once enacted, will avail resources to government offices, ministries and agencies to carry out their mandates.
Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, who addressed staff members at the Office of the Prime Minister on Wednesday, also said she expects that they embrace the initiatives aimed at cutting costs, reducing bureaucratic bottlenecks and promoting ethics.
In February, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila introduced ways to reduce the cost of running the public service in the next three years.
Some of these new measures, which were enforced in February in a document signed off by her, include limiting foreign travels by two trips a year for civil servants, control the abuse of state vehicles, root out ghost workers and crack down on wastage by using emails instead of paper.
“Similarly, we must maintain a sense of purpose in everything we do, and not see our duties as routine tasks that we carry out just so that we are not non-compliant. We should be passionate about what we do and must appreciate the duty that we have as civil servants to meet the expectation of our people,” she said.
She also touched on the issue of ethical conduct in the public sector, saying it cannot be overemphasised, stressing that the government will not tolerate any unethical conduct on the part of any public servant.
Therefore, she said, the requirement to declare assets and remunerative work outside of the public sector will thus be fully enforced and those non-compliant would be decisively dealt with.
Further, she warned that misuse and misappropriation of public resources would also be seriously dealt with.
She noted the governance framework is being strengthened in this regard and measures to operationalise this framework is included the Anti-Corruption Act, its strategy and the Public Service Act and its regulations.
She also announced that the government has embarked on an initiative to assist public servants to establish their own savings and credit cooperatives (SACCOs) to assist with access to finance for those who cannot access funding from existing funding institutions.
“Please use this facility in a way that will help to improve your lives and not to burden yourself with debt,” implored the prime minister.
SACCOs are classified as non-bank financial institutions.
She said she has been receiving complaints on Prime Minister’s Question Time from members of the public about the low-level quality of service public servants are delivering to the nation, and that they are not polite in their conduct with customers.
“That, in itself, is a clear indication that we are not living up to the letter and spirit of the Customer Service Charter,” she said.
She, therefore, strongly called upon employees to desist from such tendencies and fulfil their responsibilities as public servants.
“I call upon supervisors to ensure that customer service is evaluated as part of the performance management and that failure to meet set standard is appropriately dealt with. Firstly, our staff must be identifiable and complaints of improper conduct made about our staff should be timeously and decisively dealt with and feedback provided to the complaints,” she directed.