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Wage bill overheats NIMT engine

2023-01-20  Eveline de Klerk

Wage bill overheats NIMT engine

WALVIS BAY – The Namibia Institute of Mining and Technology employees said the institution needs to address its wage bill by getting rid of unnecessary positions. They also said the institution needs to work out an exit plan for employees over the age of 60, as those are some of the factors that bleed the already-cash-strapped institution.

The high wage bill was confirmed this week by the deputy executive director of the ministry of higher education, Raimo Naanda, to New Era. According to a document seen by this publication, the institution in 2020 spent about 80% of its budget on salaries. A second document shows that indicated top-tier employees earn between N$1 million to N$1.6 million annually, while those in middle management take home between N$600 000 and N$759 000. 

The lowest earner on the specific documents gets about N$100 000.

NIMT is currently finding itself in a predicament, as the institution was unable to pay bonuses and December salaries to over 170 employees.

The institution, which is currently also facing a legal battle due to unpaid salaries, receives funding from the Namibian Training Authority as well as the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF). 

However, it was allocated less for the current financial year due to budgetary cuts. “NIMT is not broke, regardless of budget cuts, but it is pure mismanagement of funds. We have people who are already 70 years old who are taking up the space of young graduates,” one of the employees said Wednesday. 

According to the employees, most of these employees already retired from mining institutions and were employed by NIMT. Naanda, who acknowledged the high wage bill, said the issue is receiving attention, but is rather sensitive. “I can confidently tell you there are employees who are over the age of 70, but we cannot just ask them to go. It is a sensitive matter, but I can assure you it is receiving our attention,” he said during a telephonic interview on Wednesday. As for the financial challenges the institution faces, Naanda said all institutions are feeling the pinch due to funding challenges the government experienced.

“Our ministry requested a budget from the treasury on an annual basis. However, we did not get what we asked for. For example, we requested N$3.4 billion for this year to provide the necessary funding towards our institutions, NTA and NSFAF, among others,” he said. 

Naanda said his ministry received only around N$3.1 billion. As a result, the institutions under the ministry also received less than the amount they requested.  “The implications are that they needed to divide their allocations with the institutions they support – and this had a spiral effect,” Naanda explained.

 He, however, said the budget cuts are also not an issue of concern, as administrative issues are partially to blame for the late payments of funds from NSFAF to NIMT.

“Nimt needs to make sure that documents are completed correctly and timely signed off to avoid going back and forth between them and NSFAF, as this delays the payment process,” Naanda said.

He added that NIMT plays a critical role, and that government will ensure that non-payment of salaries does not happen again.

Meanwhile, the institution is facing a legal battle due to outstanding salaries and bonuses of over 170 employees not being paid in December. The employees roped in Florian Beukes from Metcalfe Beukes Attorneys to force the institution to pay the outstanding monies within the next 10 days.

The letter of demand, seen by New Era, addressed to the board chairperson Albuis Mwiya,  states that NIMT is in breach of basic employment conditions, stipulated by the Labour Act. The employees, through the law firm, stated the institution also failed to pay over monies deducted in November and December for medical aid and pension benefits, despite making the deductions.

“The late payment of pension contributions has several undesirable effects as members are missing investment opportunities, and they risk forfeiting their death, disability and funeral benefits,” they said.

2023-01-20  Eveline de Klerk

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