Unam budget not yet confirmed

Windhoek-The Chairperson of the University of Namibia (Unam) council has dismissed media reports that government has allocated the institution N$600 million for the 2017/2018 financial years, which it has not received.

Sam Shivute last week said, people should note that the Minister of Finance had not yet tabled the national budget containing the final budget ceilings for the next Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period 2017/18 to 2019/20.

"As such, it is therefore not factual to conclude that Unam has been allocated N$600 million. The budget preparation process and engagements are still ongoing and the final funding allocation to Unam will only be confirmed once the national budget is tabled in Parliament during March 2017," he said.

He noted the university enjoyed a good relationship with the government and they remained appreciative and grateful to government for its continued support and funding towards the university's endeavours.

In this regard, he applauded government for directly funding more than 80 percent of the Unam budget.

He said the financial challenges facing the university were duly brought to the attention of the government last year.

Subsequently, he explained, the council undertook the necessary engagements with the relevant line ministries being the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation, Ministry of Finance and the Office of the Prime Minister.

"In this regard, all the political leaders consulted were very sympathetic to the challenges facing the university and indicated a commitment to avail the necessary assistance," Shivute added.

Following these fruitful engagements, he revealed, the Ministry of Finance made the necessary arrangements for Unam to secure the required funding from financial institutions to the amount of N$391 million to cover the budget shortfall for the financial year 2016/2017.

This was in addition to the direct budgetary allocation of more than N$900 million for the 2016/17 financial years. With regard to the national budget cuts and continued calls to cut expenditures within the institution, he highlighted that the downturn in the economy had not only affected Unam, but other institutions and branches of government as well.

"The fiscal consolidation exercise, will at a minimum, cause some pain to various sectors of the economy and the higher education sector is not an exception.

"The university, and indeed as a banker myself, fully understand the need for fiscal rebalancing in order to place the economy on a more sustainable path, going forward," he said. He trusted that the government would continue to support the university, in line with its fiscal position, as it has done in the past.

"As the Minister of Finance indicated during the tabling of the Mid-term Review in October 2016, the consolidation exercise will be accompanied by supportive policy interventions to smoothen the impact of fiscal adjustment on growth and social welfare.

"We are confident that the government will do what is necessary to ensure that the normal operations of the university are not severely hampered," Shivute added.

In the meantime, he maintained the council had resolved that the institution must develop measures and strategies to generate additional income to alleviate the burden and dependency on the national budget. He however did not reveal these strategies.

"I am positive and remain resolute that Unam will withstand the current economic conditions and the university's financial situation will normalise in the near future," Shivute said.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia