Calle rules out additional NSFAF funding


Finance Minister, Calle Schlettwein, said Thursday that government will not give in to the demands by the Namibia Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF), which this week begged Treasury for an additional N$641 million in order to assist 12,162 eligible first year students.

NSFAF said in a statement Monday that only 2,925 out of the 15,087 students who have met the minimum requirements for funding will receive State assistance this academic year.
The statement said its parent ministry was in consultation with Treasury to secure additional funds on top of the current budget allocation of N$1,138 billion, which will enable NSFAF to assist the remaining 12,162 new students.
But speaking to the media in Windhoek on Thursday, Schlettwein said the student funding agency should learn to live within its means. 
He said government should not be expected to bailout institutions that overcommit themselves through unauthorised expenditure and technical glitches.
 “The fund should make sure that those that are in arrears pay up because it is them that have brought about the underfunding not government. N$600 million is a huge amount.   We must learn to live within our means.”
He, however, said Treasury was in discussion with the relevant authorities to see how “we can mitigate the pain”.
There are fears that if government does not bail out the fund, thousands of under-privileged students will struggle to pay tuition fees and most will not be able to pursue a full-time university education at all.   
Opposition party, the Popular Democratic Movement, has in the meantime, accused government of failing to prioritise the needs of students.
PDM vice president, Jennifer van den Heever, said Wednesday that that the ruling party was not committed to the many promises it had made to the electorate, which include free and affordable education.
“There is a clear indication of maladministration, corruption and incompetence in both the government and the funding institution. The government has failed to prioritise the needs of students and of young people in general,” the opposition leader said. 
She said government had prioritised the spending of N$200 million on building NSFAF offices in Eros, but failed to make President Hage Geingob’s dream of turning all loans into grants a reality.
“How is it possible that we have a financial institution that could not forecast or estimate the size of the expected intake for this academic year? How is it possible that government made such a regrettable budget allocation that would accommodate only less than 20 percent of this year’s intake? What informed this low budget allocation?” van den Heever asked.
She urged the government to bail out the students’ fund, even it means dipping into the State’s Contingency Fund which is reserved for emergencies and unexpected outflows.


The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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