THE Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation (Mirco)’s Executive Director, Penda Naanda, says the ministry has implemented cost cutting measures at various missions abroad.
This is in a response to questions sent by Windhoek Observer and comes after the Deputy Prime Minister and Mirco Minister, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, in a general staff meeting at the Namibian Institute of Public Administration and Management (Nipam) this February 2021 in view of the economic outlook in the country, directed all officers, ministries and agencies to reduce expenditure.
According to Naanda, based on the implementation of the directives by Treasury, cost cutting measures being undertaken are due to the implementation of the 2021-2025 Medium-Term expenditure Frameworks, and to compliment national efforts to curb the wage bill.
Asked why the missions were affected by staff reduction and at which missions were staff reduced, the Executive Director says the Ministry undertook intensive cost cutting measures, which includes the reduction of staff at some diplomatic missions. “Through streamlining its operations and harnessing technology, we are committed to do more with less. The ministry has reduced staff in Belgium and EU, Congo Brazzaville, Germany, India and Switzerland. This is an on-going exercise and more staff reductions might be considered if and when the need arises at other missions,” Naanda says.
He adds that because of the nature of their operations, some of the affected missions had two political officers who are mostly responsible for political and economic affairs.
Subsequent to the proposed cost cutting measures, the Ministry decided to reduce the political officers to one person at such missions, and to cross transfer the remaining political officers to missions where vacancies came up due to the normal ministerial diplomatic posting cycle, instead of sending replacements from headquarters, for this financial year.
“The Ministry is committed to harness ICT to ensure that service provision at missions is not compromised by the streamlining exercise. While the Ministry cannot put an exact monetary value to the amount to be saved from the exercise, substantial savings will be realised from wage bill and non-wage bill related costs, emanating from the reduction and redeployment of these officials. This is an on-going exercise,” ED explains.
Namibia also opted not to take in refugees from Afghanistan following the Taliban’s seizure of Kabul, the country’s capital city, with 18.4 million people still in need of humanitarian assistance. While Namibia has not given reason for this decision, Naanda was quoted by the media as saying the United Nations Security Council, and the Human Rights Council, are currently addressing the situation, and Namibia has made its position clear with the Human Rights Council.