Certainly No Bailout [opinion]

THE editorial of The Namibian newspaper of Friday, May 16 headlined “Good riddance, President Pohamba! And to Lack of Courage Too”, has reference.

Normally it is not New Era Publication Corporation’s indulgence to engage in public tirades, character assassination, written and malicious dissemination of information purporting to be done in the name of a public watchdog and vigilance, especially against fellow media houses as seems to be the case with The Namibian newspaper in the said editorial.

The binoculars of our friends the media fraternity continue to be trained on the operations of NEPC. But we suspect their binoculars’ lenses need cleaning for improved vision of our activities, which, since our establishment have never been a subject of concealment.

In its edition of Friday, The Namibian’s non-devotion to facts continued unabated when they claimed New Era, and by implication NEPC, is supposedly among the ‘biggest culprits’ of operational bailouts by government.

It is interesting, and the motivation of The Namibian newspaper is only known to itself and its sponsors whoever they may be, but it is not only injudicious but also unscholarly that the NEPC is erroneously thrown into the same basket as other parastatals that in the self-opinionated editorial of the newspaper constantly rely on bailouts from the government.

Nothing can be further from the truth than such a portrayal that seems to have been sucked from the newspaper’s own figments of its imagination. Because the fact is that over the last couple of years of all the instances falling under the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT), the NEPC is one institution that cannot be said to have been overly relying on state bailouts.

Instead it can be categorically stated that it is also one institution that has been receiving less than its fair share from the Ministry. Given the realities of our mandate, which is to collect information and disseminate such information to the deepest and remotest corners of the country, which is a costly affair as many would appreciate, indeed NEPC deserves all the credit that it has been making ends meet on a stringent budget over the years. Neither can it be said that it has not been making most prudent use of the resources availed it by Treasury. Our record is there for all to see. And contrary to the editorial that NEPC has been getting bailouts from the government from year to year, what the government has been simply doing is to pay for the cost of ensuring that information reaches the populace, and vice versa that information reaches the government from the populace, which is the mandate of NEPC. It must be appreciated that such a mandate does not easily render itself to strict business principles and in this regard the State must carry the cost of provision and dissemination of information to the populace to ensure an informed populace for a viable, workable and indeed working democratic dispensation. In fact, in carrying such a mandate NEPC has to a large extent been working hard to ensure that the taxpayer does not carry the burden of such a mandate solely, by also relying on revenue generation of its own from the market through aertisements. The N$39 million allocated to the NEPC by our sole shareholder is for the next three financial years, and not the ‘current’ financial year as claimed by The Namibian. By any stretch of the imagination, N$39 million for three years is a modest allocation and one of the lowest allocated to any state-owned enterprise. This can therefore not be described as a bailout as claimed by the newspaper. Of course we know it is fashionable to criticize government and government institutions

It is important for the public to be appraised that about 12 to 13 million Namibia dollars a year is what the NEPC has been getting from the Treasury over the last couple of years, while the yearly cost of its mandate is well beyond such a threshold allocation. It should be pointed out that public media houses even in Europe receive state funding to enable them to fullfill their obligations and there is nothing untoward in this arrangement.

Source : New Era