Ballooning Wage Bill Worries Govt

THE government wage bill has grown from N$7,8 billion in 2009 to N$22 billion this year – a staggering increase of about N$14 billion in just five years.

Finance minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila told Parliament on Tuesday that the ballooning civil service wage bill “is a growing concern”.

“Without doubt, the public wage bill, standing at N$22 billion in the 2014 budget or about 42% of the revenue is a cause for concern,” she said.

Responding to questions on the budget she presented about two weeks ago, the minister said the size of the public service has a significant implication on the budget.

“Dealing with this matter is a process that requires cooperation among different stakeholders,” she said, adding that the job evaluation and regrading implemented last year accounted for N$2,5 billion of the operational budget.

Budget documents show that the wage bill that was N$7,8 billion in 2009, increased to N$10,8 billion in 2010 and to N$12,6 billion in 2011. In 2012, government was paying out N$14 billion, and this rose to N$17 billion in 2013. This year, civil servants will gobble up N$22 billion in salaries. Still, the figure is estimated to go up to N$23 billion in 2015 and again by a billion in 2016.

Two weeks ago, The Namibian reported that the number of government employees has continued rising sharply and will balloon by another 15 000 in the coming few years to about 130 000, despite complaints by citizens for nearly two decades that the civil service was bloated and inefficient.

At the moment there are 97 535 civil servants, but the structure provides for 129 560 positions. With the 14 741 positions expected to be filled this financial year, the number will reach 112 276.

The top five ministries that eat up most of the wage bill are the Ministry of Education with N$7,7 billion, an amount that will increase to N$8 billion next year, Ministry of Defence with N$4,4 billion – up from N$1,9 billion in 2012.

About N$3 billion will go towards safety and security staff, while N$2,3 billion is for the health ministry.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry will pay N$657 million to staff members, followed by Ministry of Finance with N$552 million while Foreign Affairs will pump out N$467 million in salaries.

About N$388 million has been allocated to the Ministry of Justice while the Ministry of Works and Transport gets N$305 million.

The others high earners are Ministry of Environment and Tourism with N$251 million and Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration with N$213 million.

Those figures contrast with pronouncements by government leaders such as Prime Minister Hage Geingob and Kuugongelwa-Amadhila who questioned the bloated civil service and suggested it should be leaner.

A government study called the Wages and Salary Commission (Wascom) in 1996 recommended that Namibia should have a smaller, better paid, more professional and more efficient public service.

Meanwhile, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila also questioned the dependance of State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) on government.

“The continued dependance of some SOEs on government for operation support remains a concern, as are the delays in the finalisation of financial statements and continued instance of qualified and disclaimer audit opinions,” she said.

The former Director General of the National Planning Commission said government expects improved performance from all SOEs as required by the law.

Source : The Namibian