COVID saves Govt millions in S&T

Kandjemuni Kamuiiri

The restrictions on travel due to COVID-19 have saved government N$105.7 million in travel allowances.

According to Ministry of Finance Spokesperson, Tonateni Shidhudhu, a 34.06 percent cost saving was achieved in 2020/2021 compared to the last financial year’s (2019/2020) expenditure. He added that a 56.81 percent saving had been achieved for the Daily Subsistence Allowance (DSA) compared to the last financial year. Shidhudhu said only 51.33 percent was spent, of which DSA gobbled up over N$105 million for the period April 2021 to December 2021, compared to the N$243,1 million ,of which 78.4 percent was spent from the allocated budget for the same period last year.

These figures are only for the first three quarters of 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 financial year, Shidhudhu informed Windhoek Observer. Most of the travel conducted during the period was COVID-19 related, being by members of the security groups that were deployed to enforce lockdown restrictions. “There have been official travelling undertaken locally mainly by the security and health sectors.”

Among some of the extended measures with minor changes was the order by President Hage Geingob that Namibia remove the travel ban and opens to international travellers. This was implemented last September with strict requirements set to allow travel. The introduction of travel restrictions is part of measures to control the spread of the virus in the country.

S&T have been identified as one of the areas costing Government millions as civil servants are alleged to create opportunities to travel to cash in on the extra income. Former Finance Minister, Calle Schlettwein, in 2016 announced extensive cuts in government expenditure in response to the weakening global and domestic economic conditions, and among those was the strict travel approval for civil servants.

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