The defence of billions of dollars

Schlettwein on spending

09 March 2018 | Ekonomie
Ndama Nakashole - Finance minister Calle Schlettwein has come to explain the increase in spending at the Ministry of Defence at a time when fiscal consolidation is at the centre of state finance decisions.

According to the Appropriation Bill tabled by Schlettwein on Wednesday, Defence will receive nearly N$5.96 billion in the 2018/10 Budget.

During a budget review hosted by PwC Namibia, Standard Bank Namibia, Liberty and Namibia Media Holdings (NMH) Wednesday evening, members of the public wanted to know why the defence ministry, in such a peaceful country, is getting nearly N$6 billion, which is higher than priority sectors, such as higher education’s N$3.2 billion allocation.

Schlettwein, during the question-and-answer session, said government too recognised that expenditure on defence is high, but this is a result of an old decision by parliament to up spending on defence.

He said parliament had decided that increased defence spending needs to be realised in order to maintain an ailing defence infrastructure, as well as ordering new equipment, as some infrastructure dated back to independence.

“During that time, the government went into fixed contracts that we cannot escape,” he said.

Schlettwein said the defence ministry is not performing useless activities as it carries out difficult tasks such as anti-poaching operations and international peace-keeping.

Prioritised

Members of the public further asked Schlettwein how the biggest allocation of nearly N$13.5 billion to the Ministry of Basic Education, Arts and Culture will impact public education and specifically, public schools. This ministry got the biggest chunk of the national budget, which has been a norm over the years.

Schlettwein said he noted that education benefited from generously high allocations in the past, and that Namibia ranks well in allocation of more money to education, which he said is a positive trend for the country.

He said as for education, budget allocations are not expenditures, but are an investment.

“It is an investment in our youth, so it is an investment in the future capacity of our country,” he said.

Asked whether the government in these trying times still subsidise private education, the minister said the government’s liquidity constraints over the past two years have made it difficult to subsidise private education. He added that subsidies for private education are provided for by the law because the government “believes spending on education is an investment”.

PSEMAS

Another notable highlight in this year’s national budget is the allocation of N$2.5 billion to the Public Service Employees Medical Aid Scheme (PSEMAS). The scheme is getting a whopping 62.5% of the Ministry of Finance’s N$4 billion total allocation, Schlettwein said in his budget speech.

Schlettwein, during the question-and-answer session, said the funding of PSEMAS has reached unsustainable levels. His ministry is looking at ways in which to make the scheme sustainable, in a way that does not bring down the benefits of public servants.

Schlettwein added that the unsustainability of PSEMAS is not just caused by the way it is structured, but also various forms of fraud such as over-servicing, over-subscription and card fraud.

“During the year, we are introducing a biometric system because with card fraud, you actually service a much larger base than that which is covered,” he said.

The minister said they are in continuous consultations with the medical sector to best see how they can bring the scheme to sustainability.

Managing debt

In an interview with PwC Namibia, and screened during the review dinner, Allan Gray Namibia’s CEO James Mnyupe said government debt, which has gone up, is not a bad thing if borrowed money is used productively.

Mnyupe explained that when debt is taken, it’s taken to fund projects that bring income. He noted that every debt issued is going to fund those projects where the income is coming in. However, there is servicing of debt and the income generated is going to fund those projects with an aim of making more to fund new projects and attain financial stability.

“Debt is not a bad thing to issue but you must make sure that it increases income capacity of the country to sustain it,” he said.

Soortgelyk

 

Man sterf op Walvisbaai-Swakopmund-pad

9 ure gelede | Ongelukke

Die 27-jarige Franico Esly Huseb is vandag omstreeks 07:30 dood, nadat die bakkie waarin hy op reis was op die pad tussen Swakopmund en Walvisbaai...

Eksamenuitslae dán bekend

10 ure gelede | Onderwys

Die voorlopige uitslae vir graad 10 (JSC) en graad 12 (NSSC) hoë vlak vir voltydse en deeltydse kandidate word aanstaande Donderdag (20 Desember) amptelik bekendgemaak....

Drie meisies verdrink in sandputte

11 ure gelede | Ongelukke

Die Namibiese polisie in die Ohangwenastreek het ‘n beroep op kontrakteurs gedoen om sandputte toe te stoot wat geskep is met die uitgrawe van sand...

1,6 miljoen toeriste besoek Namibië in 2017

12 ure gelede | Toerisme

Altesaam 2,2% meer toeriste het Namibië in 2017 as in die vorige jaar besoek met meer as 1,6 miljoen buitelandse toeriste wat die land ingestroom...

Studente betaal meer by Unam

12 ure gelede | Onderwys

Die finansiële verknorsing waarin die Universiteit van Namibië (Unam) verkeer, tesame met die algemene ekonomiese vooruitsig vir die land, het die universiteitsraad genoop om klasgelde...

Plunderwoude: Ministerie ontken ongerymdhede

22 ure gelede | Plaaslik

Elvira Hattingh - Die ministerie van landbou, water en bosbou sê die meerderheid permitte wat vir die oes en vervoer van hout uitgereik is, is...

Polisie op sy knieë

22 ure gelede | Polisie

Denver Kisting – Die inspekteur-generaal van die Namibiese polisie, lt.genl. Sebastian Ndeitunga, sê die land se finansiële verknorsing het die mag op sy knieë.Ndeitunga het...

Avihe-moordenaar het dalk landuit gevlug

22 ure gelede | Misdaad

Denver Kisting – As Avihe Cheryl Ujaha (9) nie deur iemand in haar binnekring vermoor is nie, is haar moordenaar(s) waarskynlik al landuit.Só sê die...

Weer vir 13 Desember 2018

22 ure gelede | Weer

BINNELAND: Gedeeltelik bewolk en baie tot bloedig warm met geïsoleerde buie plek-plek in die noordelike en sentrale dele. Elders sal dit sonnig en baie tot...