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Chew what you can swallow- Analysts on unfinished capital projects

19/03/2018
by Rodney Pienaar
News

With an array of budgeted capital projects stuck in limbo due to budgetary constraints and at times incompetency, analysts have advised that instead of chewing more than it can swallow, government could focus on prioritising three projects per region. 

Last year alone, five projects had to be shelved in Kavango West due to inadequacies in funds. 

 Clinics and health centres at Nkurekuru, Dcwatjinga, Gcaruhwa and Rupara and a district hospital which had gone for three years unattended to are testimony of a government that is taking more than it can handle only to be later financially overwhelmed.

Many of such noble undertakings end up being white elephants. 

 Last year in March, Mpaca-Candino Mining and Construction hogged negative publicity for abandoning upgrades of Mpaca Airport in the Zambezi Region despite having been paid a whopping N$62 billion by the state.   

Media reports have it that the project should have been finished in 2015.  

Tackling a few projects at a time  will assist government to keep track of funds that get taken back state coffers after it has been allocated for capital projects, analysts reason.  

 “It will not only be a wise move but it will also save time for the government to perfectly execute capital projects in the regions. This also means that the state will be able to track on time how the funds are utilised for these projects annually.”

“And in future if there are similar projects, then the government will know approximately how much to spend on a similar project and how long it will take to complete the projects,”  said Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) associate researcher, Frederico links.  

Such a strategic move would greatly benefit regional inhabitants who also get to acknowledge the work done without there being too much on the table, he said. 

Links also said that unemployment statistics will also drop due to the fact that unemployed inhabitants in the regions will be aware of where and when to find possible temporary employment. 

Treasury initially set aside N$36.8 billion for development projects over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2018.

About 7% (N$2.6 billion) of this had been earmarked for projects in Erongo, which represented the third largest allocation of all regions.

The region had been picked for the upgrading of key infrastructure over a term of three years.  

In Ongwediva, regional governor, Clemens Kashuupulwa, struggled with finishing just three classrooms and a storeroom at Oshapwa Primary school.

The work had commenced in 2014 only for contractors having reportedly abandoned the site leaving the construction of 23 classrooms in limbo. 

Taking three projects per region in one financial year has also been given a thumps up by prolific political analyst, Ndumbah Kamwanyah.   

He describes it as one of the biggest decisions GRN would make if it considers walking down that path.  

“Sometime the focus is only on minor projects in the regions that is why major capital projects take years to be finalised. So if the state prioritise completion of three major capital projects in the regions, then we will see development in the regions faster compared to what we have witnessed over the years,” he said. 

Regional inhabitants attach great importance and pride in their infrastructure, he says, and moving a step at a time ensures finality on such projects. 

  Another political analyst Hoze Riruako said that although the projects might not be completed in a single financial year it will also help keep track of how the funds of capital projects are spent. 

“It might be very challenging in terms of completing the capital projects within a financial year but it will help in tracking how the state funds are being utilised in the region for capital projects especially when a capital project involves construction, then it will be very easy to track how the funds are used.”

“This will also encourage inhabitants in the region to keep track of development in the region because all of them within the region will know by then on which capital projects the state is using funds for development in their respective regions,” he said.