Kuzeeko Tjitemisa Windhoek The Office of the President’s 2018/2019 budget has been reduced by N$197 million from last year’s N$608 million allocation, to N$411.5 million this financial year. This was confirmed by newly-appointed Presidential Affairs Minister Martin Andjaba in the National Assembly yesterday. Motivating the presidency’s budget in parliament, Andjaba said the cut reflected the depth of the cost-cutting measures introduced by government. Finance minister Calle Schlettwein introduced stern fiscal consolidation measures since 2016, resulting in early gains, but also in far-reaching implications such as freezing entry level jobs in the public sector which impacted youth employment negatively. Schlettwein in his speech noted that the current budget comes at a time after the Namibian economy endured its most precarious phase. With the economy at a turning point the minister tabled a budget aimed at further consolidation of non-core spending and the alignment of resources to priorities. According to accounting firm Deloitte, budget deficit reduced by a cumulative 3 percent over the past two years and expenditure reduced from 42.8 percent of GDP in 2015/2016 to an estimated 38.7 percent in 2017/2018. The funding of a large budget deficit has however increased debt from 29.5 percent of GDP in 2015/2016 to an estimated 42.1 percent in 2017/2018. The presidency was not spared Schlettwein’s wrath after Andjaba yesterday said of the total allocation, N$375.5 million is for operations, while the remaining N$36 million is development budget. Andjaba says this figures represent a decrease of N$87 million in the operational budget, and N$110 million in the development budget as compared to the last Financial Year. According to him, there are two sub-programmes under the said allocation, which is State Security Services, which got a total allocation of N$160.6 million, and Marginalised Communities and People with Disabilities. Marginalised affairs got an allocation of N$65,8 million for operations, while N$19,4 million was channeled towards operational expenses for disability affairs. Andjaba says the Support Services sub-programme is allocated a total amount of N$63,1million, for operational purposes only. He said these allocations reflect the impact of the cost reduction measures implemented this financial year in order to curb public expenditure. “While some services will be negatively affected by these measures, government remains strongly committed to providing services to beneficiaries in these priority areas,” he said. By any measure, he said, this programme has noble objectives, which are aimed at improving the living conditions of some of the most vulnerable communities in society and integrate them into the broader Namibian house. Andjaba said the objectives of the programme include the integration of the San, Ovatue and Ovatjimba communities and people with disabilities into the mainstream economy. “In terms of specific activities, it is under this programme that the education for young people from the San communities is catered for through the San Education Support Programme,” he said. Under this programme, Andjaba said beneficiaries are identified and the responsible unit facilitates the enrolment of students in schools and tertiary education institutions. “In addition, the division coordinates the construction of permanent school buildings and teachers houses at various settlement centres for the benefit of these communities,” he said. He said many members of marginalised communities are disproportionately affected by landlessness. Andjaba said it is for this reason that access to land is a crucial and key factor in integrating the affected communities. He said the presidency has worked closely with the Ministry of Land Reform to allocate land to members of the San, Ovatue and Ovatjimba communities. “These efforts have already born fruit as hundreds of members from these communities have benefitted from resettlement in both communal and commercial areas,” he said.
2018-04-11 08:53:57 5 months ago