Most civil servants who have been working at the Inland Revenue department in the finance ministry that morphed into the Namibia Revenue Agency (NamRA) have managed to retain job security and benefits since being co-opted by the agency as of 7 April 2021.
The strategic move by NamRA enables the new national tax body to utilise valuable skills staff have accumulated and still keep them in their initial positions.
Some of the workers who preferred anonymity for fear of reprisal, however, said they have been working for government for over 20 years and have accumulated substantial pensions, which they feared would be squandered if they were forced to resign and apply to the new agency.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Finance said it has not received any objections from staff members who are to be seconded to the relatively new NamRA, which was officially launched this year and is expected to directly employ at least 1 300 workers.
According to Tonateni Shdhudhu, the interim finance ministry spokesperson, a total of 1 313 finance ministry staff have already signed consent letters for secondment to NamRA.
“There were about seven staff members who did not sign due to pending disciplinary cases, but efforts are being made for them to sign and start receiving a secondment allowance like others,” Shidhudhu clarified in response to questions from New Era.
When asked where the finance ministry staff who have not agreed to be seconded to NamRA will be placed within government structures, Shidhudhu explained: “The idea was to deploy them in the civil service, to any office, ministry or agency where their services and skills are needed. However, we are happy to report that all of them have expressed interest to join NamRA and it is our hope that they will all be absorbed by the end of their secondment period.”
When queried about the secondment of former Inland Revenue commissioner Justus Mwafongwe, Shidhudhu noted Mwafongwe initially signed the consent letter for secondment but was subsequently requested to remain behind (at the finance ministry) to spearhead the establishment of the Tax Policy Unit.
“He is currently preoccupied with the establishment of such a unit which will be responsible for legislation and policies related to customs and taxes,” said Shidhudhu.
Meanwhile, other finance ministry employees fear losing employment benefits, like the Public Service Medical Aid Scheme (Psemas).
“What if I don’t make it through the probation period and have already resigned from my secured job at the ministry. What will I do?” asked a concerned staff member.
About two months ago NamRA, which already recruited its executives, commenced with the recruitment of 21 managers and a head of department for risk management and internal audit.
The management positions advertised were for inland revenue, customs and excise and general administration, audit and compliance, assets and facilities, tax intelligence and investigations, taxpayer education and international relations as well as customs tariffs management and compliance.
Another employee preferring anonymity, yesterday told New Era that only NamRA’s managers have received contracts.
“There is not a huge difference in salaries for administrative staff, which have increased slightly. We are now receiving an allowance for being seconded as we are waiting for NamRA to advertise our positions and only after this process will we be able to sign employment contracts,” said the employee.