Agriculture coughs up over N$100 000 in airtime for former employees

The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry is tightening its purse on its phone bill after it discovered that it was still making payments for former employees, bringing the bill to over N$100 000 a month.

The ministry’s permanent secretary Percy Misika said its employees were entitled to monthly airtime worth N$169; N$399 and N$999 on a contractual basis.

However, it has now had to cut the bill as employees who had resigned or transferred to other ministries were still benefiting from this for an unknown period.

“We have cut these figures to say that across the board starting from myself to the lowest paid employee that is allocated a phone for work, will now only get a contract of N$499 monthly and this is due to the economic situation the country is experiencing and the cost had to be cut in some areas,” Misika has said. 

He further said that a committee had been established to look at the contracts of monthly airtime and in the first month it has found that the ministry has been paying for airtime that is worth over N$100 000 for people that are no longer employed at the ministry. 

Misika explained that during the current financial the ministry has been on a skeleton budget and this was compounded by the outstanding payment on invoices. 

“This has impacted negatively on all of our programs whether it is operational or development and as such the management has sat and discussed on how to cut costs and took joint measures that we started in June this year,” he said. 

He added that the committee is busy looking at all the invoices of utilities of all the offices across the country to find more ways to cut costs.

Misika also said that the ministry is faced with a challenge in catering to 82 new staff members from the children of the liberation struggle which was not budgeted for during the 2017/18 financial year.

Other challenges are on the general salary increment and transport allowances back payment paid in April 2017/18 financial year which was not budgeted for.

The ministry has also experienced difficulties with the payment of Animal Health Technicians and Health Inspectors who received a back pay from 2013 which was also not budgeted for.

In the approved 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) the ministry is expecting to receive a total amount of N$ 1 967 0 33 000.

This includes N$ 1 028 125, 000 operational and N$938 908 000 for development budget.

“Regrettably the 2018/19 financial year allocation of N$ 1 967 033 000 represents 16.96 % reductions compared to the 2017/18 revised budget allocations of N$ 2 368 818 000,” he said.