Andrew Kathindi

Public service workers will breathe a sigh of relief as government stated that it still plans to honour birthday bonuses for its employees despite revenue pressures intensified by COVID-19.

Despite hundreds of private sector workers being retrenched on a monthly basis due to economic pressures, with many companies cancelling the 13th cheque as part of cost containment measures, government maintains it will continue to pay bonuses to its employees.

“The pay structure of government employees did not change, all conditions of employment, as per the contract of employment each employee has signed with their respective employer, remain applicable and in force,” Executive Director in the Office of the Prime Minister, I-ben Nashandi revealed.

He, however, could not reveal whether salary increments were on the table this year as discussions are held with employee trade unions, while he ruled out any planned retrenchments in the public service.

“There have not been any discussions for retrenchments within the government structure.”

Nashandi also noted that while government has frozen filling non-essential vacancies, it will continue, however, recruitment for critical positions to realize certain objectives.

“For instance, we have just approved additional posts for medical staff due to Covid-19, teaching and veterinary staffs as they were deemed to be critical for the current government operations,” he told Windhoek Observer.

This comes as Finance Minister Iipumbu Shiimi revealed that Namibia approached the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for emergency loan of N$4.5 billion to aid government its fight against the pandemic.

He said government was still investigating lowering the retirement age as an independent study was being done.

“That investigation is not yet concluded. It requires rigorous consideration due to its implications to the current law governing the pension framework in the country. For example, the Pension Act of 1956 and other relevant regulations will be affected. We also need to assess the financial implications to both the government and the economy as well as the impact on skills and experience.”