Ministry explains ‘late’ budgets 

Ministry explains ‘late’ budgets 

Lahja Nashuuta

Deputy Minister of Urban and Rural Development Evelyn !Nawases-Taeyele has clarified that the ministry is not delaying the release of funds to regional councils and local authorities to run their affairs.

She said July is the month set aside for the release of budgets to regional councils and local authorities. This process is underway, she said. Responding to New Era enquiries as to why the Kunene Regional Council and local authorities complained about their budgets not being released yet, !Nawases-Taeyele maintained that the budgets are not late, as purported by politicians and administrators in Kunene during a recent visit to the region.

The deputy minister said, in terms of the Local Authorities Act, the financial years of local authorities commence on 1 July each year and conclude on 30 July the following year.

She further explained that based on this provision, the local authorities’ (LAs) budgets for the financial year start on 1 July, and the deadline for the LAs initial submission of their estimate budget to MURD was 30 May 2024.

“The provisions were made as per the directives in the budget circular dated 12 April 2024, and to extend the LAs’ submission of the budget estimates to 21 June 2024,” she said.

!Nawases-Taeyele stated the recommendation to extend was endorsed during a consultation meeting with the regional and local authorities’ councils that took place from 20 and 31 May this year.

She told New Era that the MURD has received a total of 19 budgets on or before the deadline, and currently, 27 local authorities’ budgets have been received.

She added that the ministry is processing them for approval by the minister.

The politician further indicates that Section 83(3) of the Local Authorities Act provides for a continuation period of three months where LAs are authorised to spend an amount equal to 25% of the previous financial year’s budget until the budget for the financial year is approved.

“Based on the above, the purported delays in the approval of the LAs budgets for the financial year are unfolded and devoid of any truth,” !Nawases-Taeyele said. 

Last week, four local authorities in Kunene informed New Era that they are operating without a budget from the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development for the current financial year.

The late approval and release of the budget, they said, prevents government entities from initiating procurement processes at the start of the financial year, based on the approved budget.

Kunene Regional Council acting director for planning and development, Charles Uarije told New Era during an interview that all the projects earmarked to be executed in the current financial year have not taken off, while others carried over from the previous financial year are on hold due to a lack of funds.

He revealed the Kunene Regional Council’s budget has not yet been released, and most of the socio-economic development projects earmarked for this year have yet to be implemented. 

“It is a challenge because local authorities have to wait for a couple of months for the responsible ministry to release the funds for us to start with the procurement and implementation of the programme,” Uarije said.

Sharing similar sentiments was Opuwo Urban constituency councillor Ueutjerevi Ngunaihe, who said the delay has hampered the construction of the road network and the servicing of land in the town.

Ngunaihe proposed that there is a need for the government to table the budget at the beginning of the year to give ample time for the regions to execute.

For the current financial year, the ministry received N$1.6 billion, of which N$120 million is earmarked for rural development.