Ten government institutions returned N$400 million to the State purse between 2019 and 2021, money that could have been used to address serious national challenges such as housing, employment creation or even intensifying the anti-graft fight.
The biggest culprit is the urban and rural development ministry, which oversees local authorities that are failing to deliver basic services due to shortage of funds.
The ministry took back N$145 million or 8.8% of its total budget to the treasury.
The details are contained in a comprehensive government expenditure report, compiled by Auditor General Junias Kandjeke, for the 2019-2021 financial years (FY).
Kandjeke’s report was finalised in July 2022.
It was recently tabled in the National Assembly for scrutiny. “It is recommended that offices, ministries and agencies that underspend their budget should indicate if all objectives were fulfilled or not,” Kandjeke said in no uncertain terms.
During the same period, the ministries of finance and environment underspent their budgets by N$121 million and N$29 million respectively.
Meanwhile, the ministry of agriculture and land reform, which presides over the snail’s paced resettlement programme and green schemes that have largely become white elephants, returned N$44 million to the State’s coffers.
While the country’s unemployment statistics are estimated at around 40%, the ministry tasked with employment creation failed to spend N$11 million on its budget. At home affairs, N$13 million was not used during the FYs under review, the auditors found.
Kandjeke’s men also noted under-expenditure of N$16 million, N$9 million, N$7 million and N$3 million at the ministries of fisheries, justice, trade and the Anti-Corruption Commission in that order.
Government’s overall under-expenditure reduced by N$299 million.
During the same period, the government also spent N$2.7 billion on materials and supplies, it is recorded.
In 2019, N$318 million was spent by civil servants on subsistence and travel allowances (S&T).
Additionally, in 2021, N$156 million was used.
Companies rendering security services to government offices and others were paid a whopping N$172 million.
This is all while security guards have over the years lamented poor wages and unbearable working conditions with those contracted by the government being accused of living large.
More so, the government splashed N$584 million on properties while N$861 million was used for maintenance. The report does not specify whether the amount spent on properties was for accusation, construction or rental.
Around N$1.7 million was used to entertain politicians while consultation fees cost taxpayers N$33 million.
While some ministries and agencies are guilty of under-expenditure, others spent N$1.1 billion without treasury approval, a direct contravention of the State Finance Act.
The education, arts and culture ministry recorded unauthorised expenditure amounting to N$623 million while the health ministry spent N$366 million without treasury’s blessing.
The unauthorised spending at some ministries is attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Now defunct and reduced to a department in the finance ministry, the public enterprises’ ministry overspent its prescribed budget by N$92 million.
“It is recommended that an up-to-date kept commitment register can assist the accounting officer to a large extent to eliminate excesses by requesting approvals for virements timeously,” Kandjeke said.
He also recommended the recruitment of properly trained accountants and improved communication between the various ministries, agencies and the Ministry of Finance.
All in all, the government received a qualified audit opinion, meaning its financial statements are fairly represented, with the exception of some areas.