Parliamentarians were this week given a glimpse of the total value of the state’s asset register, with finance minister Iipumbu Shiimi revealing the latest electronic register stood at N$11.9 billion inclusive of immovable and movable assets as at 16 September 2020.
According to Shiimi, moveable assets amounted to N$3.954 billion, while immovable assets were valued at N$7.951 billion.
Shiimi, who was responding to a motion tabled by Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) MP Nico Smit on the alleged absence of a state asset register, said the value of immovable assets covers 692 farms and 744 housing units.
Categories of state assets are movable assets (current and non-current) that consist of stock, equipment, furniture and vehicles, as well as immovable assets (fixed assets) that include land, factories and buildings.
With regard to resettlement farms, to date government has spent about N$2.3 billion to acquire 558 farming units measuring about more than three million hectares and all are recorded in the electronic registry.
“It is therefore important to note that state assets are recorded in registers, but some assets are still in manual registries. We intend to commence with the migration of institutional buildings from the manual record to the electronic register soonest,” said Shiimi.
He added that the finance and works ministries will work together to ensure that the record of state assets is maintained, and that regular stock control training be provided to all government entities.
Said Shiimi: “We intend to continue providing asset management and inventory training to OMAs (offices, ministries and agencies) in order to encourage compliance and adherence to the rules and regulations. Even though the government is currently in possession of the asset register, I do admit that there are many challenges mostly regarding the maintenance of assets due to non-compliance and adherence to procedures set out in the legal framework. The OMAs also take too long to approach treasury for disposal of unused, damaged, redundant and obsolete assets. Another serious challenge associated with mismanagement of state sssets is the staff turnover of trained staff and consequently the shortage of staff at some OMAs.”
He added that the way forward for both treasury and the works ministry “is to review the overall management of state assets, with a view to completing the migration of all assets into the electronic register within a period of two years, as well as introducing a maintenance plan by the ministry of works”.
Treasury is responsible for the authorisation of the acquisition of government assets, alienation, letting, exchange, donation, disposal and acceptance of gifts for movable and immovable assets in terms of legislation.
Shiimi explained that the core process of the life cycle of a government asset commences from procurement or acquisition of the asset, maintenance, and ends with the disposal of an asset. Assets that are under the care of state-owned enterprises are managed within the establishment Acts of those respective entities and are reported and accounted for within their audited financial statements.
In the past Cabinet recommended the creation, implementation and commissioning of an asset register, which became part of the module of the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) under the Ministry of Finance. This electronic asset register requires each state entity to migrate the manual information into the electronic system, which then feeds into the central electronic register at treasury.
The management of state assets is governed under a number of laws and policy documents, including the Namibian Constitution, the State Finance Act, Treasury Instructions, the Public Procurement Act, the Government Asset Management Policy and the Government Basic Stock Control Manual. The State Finance Act grants the Ministry of Finance the custodianship of all state assets, while the works ministry is responsible for the management of fixed assets as well as vehicles through the government garage.