Namibia: Of Politicians salaries, soldiers going home and our absence at Davos

President Hage Geingob is expected back in Windhoek this lunch hour after flying commercial to Addis Ababa for the African Union Summit, a cost-cutting measure, State House said. 

 

PRESIDENT Hage Gottfried Geingob

Compounded with recent reports of the security of the State now being compromised by the armed forces going on forced leave, it is high time government comes out clean that we are in an economic crisis. Crippling economic conditions is perhaps one of the main reasons Namibia was not, for the first time represented at the World Economic Forum’s biggest annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland, where other neighbouring countries sent delegations of up to 40 experts. And for a country that went on an investment/marketing overdrive in the USA as well as hosting an Investment Summit, Namibia’s absence at Davos leaves more questions than answers on the true state of our economy.

Time politicians cut salaries, instead of sending our soldiers home 

This week President Hage Geingob issued to directive that affects all travel outside the borders of Namibia. Said State House today, “This directive is specifically in the interest of curtailing public expenditure, no request for outbound travel by Ministers, Deputy Ministers and other Political Office Bearers will be considered until after the end of February 2018.”

Is there something the politicians are not really telling us, besides the obvious realisation that there is no money? Well there is, according to the signs of the times.

But with the government wage bill now at 49% of all non-interest expenditure, why is government not cutting on increased public expenditure? 

Namibian government operational expenditure accounts for 85% of total expenditure, while the public wage bill represents 88% of operational expenditure for the financial year 2016/17. Cutting expenditure has reached its optimal level as additional spending cuts would result in political, social and economic risks, economist Purvance Heuer warned last year.

He warned of emerging risks such as late salary payments by some SOEs, and the delays in payments of medical aid premiums for some public servants, all which has come true.

With about 50% of total revenue is committed to the wage bill (N$28 billion in 2016/17 financial year out of a total budget of N$62 billion), perhaps it is high time politicians take pay cuts.

So far only President Hage Geingob has donated 30% of if N$146 000 monthly salary to charity, but that’s a drop in the ocean, where our security is now compromised and he has to fly commercial.

Besides their salaries, Namibian Minister get a hefty N$222,000 annual housing allowance and N$55,000 per month water & electricity subsidy.

Investigative reporter John Grober says members of the National Assembly are paid the same as members of the National Council; it is also not clear if Ministers who are members of the National Assembly also draw an extra salary as MPs. Below are the salaries of Namibian political leaders. And if only they could cut some, rather than send our soldiers home.

 President – N$1,753,964 (N$146,000 pm)
 Vice-President – N$1,525,186 (N$127,000 pm)

 Founding President Sam Nujoma – N$1,376, 085 (N$111,000 pm). Government also pays for all the considerable staff, security, transport and housing needs, including building him a new N$30 million house.

 Former President Hifikepunye Pohamba – N$1,159,260 (N$96,000 pm). Government pays for all his personal staff, transport and housing needs, including the cost of construction and upkeep on a N$35 million mansion in Kleine Kuppe where he never seems to stay. He of course does not need the money – he gets another N$1.5 million plus per year from the Ibrahim Foundation.

 Prime Minister – N$1,326,248 (N$110,000 pm)
We of course also take care of all her needs, but she also gets a N$285,735
housing allowance.

 Deputy Prime Minister – N$1,083,732 (N$90,000 pm). While we take care of all her needs, she also gets a N$235,000 housing allowance. Being the International Affairs Minister, she presumably also gets paid for doing that job so well at another N$90,000 per month. Her husband is a former Army chief of Staff and presumably also brings home a sizable pension, which makes this couple the best-paid civil servants, at least not stealing on contractual basis from a bankrupt state-owned enterprise.

 Speakers of the National Assembly and National Council – N$1,139,282 or N$94,000 per month, including all the generous perks afforded to Ministers.

 Ministers – N$1,089,185 or N$90,000 per month, including generous perks like making up your own S&T claims that can easily match monthly income.

 Leader of the Official Opposition: N$996,006 or N$83,000 per month

 Deputy Ministers – N$788,366 or N$65,000 pm plus S&T perks. Bet you they feel really under-paid.

 Members of the National Assembly and National Council – N$693,769 or N$57,000 pm for working really not very hard for about seven months per year.

 Regional Governors – N$716,771 or N$60,000 per month for being a minor political nuisance. Major nuisances soon become Advisors.
 Then Presidential Advisors who are paid same as Ministers.

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