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Putting an end to wastefulness

02 April 2015
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In his statement to Cabinet on Tuesday President Hage Geingob stole the limelight from the finance minister Calle Schlettwein when he announced that the old age grants would be increased by N$400.00 to N$1000.00.

The increase is a welcome relief to our vulnerable pensioners considering that the pension grant was last increased in 2013 and only by N$50.00.

Geingob was quoted as having said public officials will have to reduce their foreign travels if government resources are not enough to cater for the increased pensions.

We have seen too many public officials on foreign trips that add no value to their work and the country while at the same time draining government coffers of millions of dollars every year. Indeed this money should and can be put to good use and help make a difference in people’s lives especially those vulnerable members of our society.

In the same breath we welcome the establishment of the public enterprise ministry. Although the minister in charge is yet to receive his terms of reference, we believe the ministry will help to end the many problems associated with our wasteful State Owned Enterprises (SOEs).

Our SOEs have continued to be a drain on the fiscus since independence despite the many turn around strategies that have been put in place.

The poor performance by the SOEs has largely been blamed on appointments to influential positions of politically connected people who have no clue of what is required of their positions. This in turn has led to premature suspensions and expulsions that have been challenged in court.

Most of the cases involving suspended CEOs or senior officials have dragged in court for years resulting in the parastatals paying millions in legal fees, money that could have been used productively elsewhere.

We hope that the appointment of Leon Jooste - who is a successful businessman in his own right - as the minister responsible for public enterprises, will bring stability to these companies.

We hope to see an end to political appointments at these institutions that add no value to them.

However some people argue that having a central ministry to oversee the different State Owned Enterprises involved in different sectors of the economy might not be the panacea to our challenges.

Critics argue that a public enterprises ministry might lack the varied skills needed to effectively monitor and provide leadership to the SOEs.

They argue that countries like South Africa with a ministry responsible for state owned companies have not fared any better as these companies continue to be embroiled in controversy after controversy.

One just has to look at the mess at Eskom and SABC to know that a public enterprise ministry is not always a solution.

However we believe that given our history and experience, a public enterprises ministry is a step in the right direction. Let history be the judge.

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