WINDHOEK - The Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture has committed to the containment of its wage bill which is 83 percent of total allocation of 2019/20 financial year, without having to lay off workers.
In an interview with New Era, the ministry’s Executive Director Sanet Steenkamp said this will be attained through the revision of post provisioning norms, intensify pay-sheet control, payroll verification for payroll efficiency, re-assess vacant positions with the aim to abolish some posts and only fill essential posts.
This follow media reports claiming that Steenkamp said that the ministry is set to trim the number of employees extensively and make significant restructuring decisions.
In this regard, she said the ministry has been and is continuously implementing the compensatory reduction strategy as enforced by the Office of the Prime Minister, where a critical analysis is made on vacant posts whereby some are abolished via the Public Service Commission and only the very essential positions are submitted to Secretary to Cabinet for approval.
“This exercise will continue to be done at both regional and national level. The regional directors will equally continue to redress over-staffing in the regions, and transfer teachers to understaffed schools. Our aim is to be more efficient in efforts to be more efficient in terms of the budget allocation and contrary to recent reports,
the ministry is not retrenching staff members,” she remarked.
Further, Steenkamp added that the call to contain the wage bill is part of the Public Expenditure Review carried out in 2017.
Following a prior directive from the Ministry of Finance to review expenditure, she said the ministry’s budget review has concentrated on reducing consumption expenditure mainly on daily subsistence allowance, overtime and other expenditure of operational nature.
Inevitably, she says this has had an impact on the ministry’s operation as it limits the scope of work in terms of what was planned for.
Of the N$13.7 billion allocated for the 2019/20 financial year, N$11.4 billion, representing 83 percent of the total budget goes towards personnel expenditure.
During the opening of the ministry’s Annual Review of the 2018/2019 financial year and the Validation of the Annual Plans for 2019/2020 financial year recently, Steenkamp expressed concern over the huge wage bill in the ministry.
One reason blamed for the huge wage bill is the ghost teachers or employees within the ministry of education.
New Era wanted to find out how is the ministry ensuring that this crisis is tackled and rooted out.
Hence, she said during the 2018/19 financial year, the ministry recorded a close match between payroll and Annual Education Census (AEC) data.
“The matching exercise compares data from two systems; Education Management Information System (EMIS) and the payroll, in terms of the number of teachers paid per school against the number captured during the census. It is evident from the results of the matching exercise that existence of ghost teachers is not proven,” she maintained.
Moreover, Steenkamp said the ministry also conducted the verification of the payroll (payroll audit).
The payroll verification was done by the respective regional directorates of education, arts and culture. She reasoned the payroll verification exercise is the step that the ministry has taken to improve payroll efficiencies and will be carried out annually.
“We pledge our commitment in addressing challenges faced by the ministry,” she noted.
2019-04-09 09:01:20 6 months ago