Simataa moots retrenchments at NBC

Information and Communication Technology Minister Stanley Simataa has hinted at the downsizing of the cash-strapped state broadcaster � NBC � in a bid to rescue it from complete collapse.

The minister made these remarks in the National Assembly on Thursday.

He was responding to questions posed to him on the survival of NBC by United People's Movement (UPM) politician, Jan Van Wyk.

At the onset, Simataa made it clear that the modus operandi at the NBC, which has seen around 70 per cent of its total revenue going into salaries and other personnel-related costs as unsustainable.

NBC spends around N.dollars 262.5 million on its employees alone per annum.

This is against their current subsidy from the government which stands at N.dollars 140 million.

Retaining the current level of staffing at NBC is no longer sustainable and has the effect of collapsing the entity. Yes, the outcome of this exercise [restructuring] will invariably lead to retrenchments, he said.

Simataa went on: Given this scenario, I am sure many of us would concede that restructuring is an unavoidable evil.

As a responsible government, Simataa said they currently have two options to deal with NBC.

(One is to) to ignore the impending economic perils and continue business as usual and risk the total collapse of its operations or consider a bouquet of painful but necessary austerity measures, some of which are extremely unpopular, to salvage the operation of the organisation, Simataa told the August house.

As things stand, according to Simataa, NBC pays around N.dollars Another issue that continues to haunt the institution is its historic debt which stands at a whooping N.dollars 363 million.

The situation has forced the ailing parastatal to take its begging bowl to the doorsteps of Treasury, asking for a bailout.

However, the term bailout does not seem to sit well with Simataa.

Over the years, the discourse on the financial challenges facing the NBC has been deliberately sedated with the wrong narrative of bailout, Simataa said.

The assertion by Simataa was immediately quashed by Finance Minister, Calle Schlettwein, who said NBC's request for a monetary injection is nothing short of a bailout.

Schlettwein, who has since taking charge of the ministry tightened the noose on the State purse, then referred Simataa to the Oxford Dictionary, seemingly schooling the latter on what a bailout is.

A bailout is defined by the Oxford Dictionary is an act of giving financial assistance to a failing business or economy to save it from collapseand if you speak about NBC being technically insolvent, then it is a bailout, Schlettwein said.

Source: Namibia Press Agency