Works minister John Mutorwa says his ministry is facing a N$57 million budget shortfall to pay for office accommodation to ensure government institutions have facilities to operate from.
Mutorwa made this revelation in parliament last week while motivating the department of works budget of N$536 million, of which N$523 million will go towards capital-related expenditure.
He informed MPs that a N$74 million operational budget for paying rent to landlords had been set aside, but that there was a N$57 million shortage.
“The programme provides for the office accommodation needs for all OMAs. It also includes the acquisition, management and control of accommodation through assigning government houses for the use by ministries, as well as the provision of staff housing to government officials,” the minister said.
Furthermore, Mutorwa requested fellow parliamentarians to approve an amount of N$57 million to be allocated to the government construction buildings regulation, coordination and supervision programme.
He said the purpose of this programme is to plan and oversee capital construction projects, and to renovate and upgrade government buildings.
“The programme enables the regulation, coordination and development of building technical standards and technical support to some almost 250 capital projects,” he said.
“During the period under review, the department managed a range of ongoing projects well in excess of N$2 billion.”
Also, he said, under this programme, photovoltaic systems, which allow for basic power, lights and hot water are installed and/or refurbished in existing government schools and clinics in remote areas, where the national electrification grid does not reach.
“Provision has not been made for the installation of photovoltaic systems at government facilities for this financial year, as most of the schools and clinics were electrified through rural electrification programme under the Ministry of Mines and Energy,” he said.
According to Mutorwa, the programme also administers and regulates the Acts of Professional bodies involved in the construction industry (architects, quantity surveyors and engineers), and also supervises and monitors the construction work done by contractors on government projects, including office buildings and services centres.
He further asked parliamentarians to approve an amount of N$210 million to be allocated to the maintenance of government properties.
He said the money will be used to ensure the maintenance and rehabilitation of government properties and related infrastructures, such as the servicing, maintenance and overhauling of water pumps and generator sets, as well as the rehabilitation of other existing specialised installations.
“Government inherited buildings that have been left to dilapidate, some beyond their economic value, and, therefore, not even fit for renovation. The time has come that government commits to and pay urgent attention to renovation and maintenance through adequate budgeting,” Mutorwa said.
He said continuing to construct new infrastructures while the existing ones are left to deteriorate is simply shooting oneself in the foot.
“I sincerely appreciate the attention being given to school infrastructures maintenance, particularly as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, hospitals, clinics, health centres and regional offices equally require attention. OMAs have established their routine maintenance units to cater for preventative maintenance as per Cabinet decisions,” said the works minister.