WTF the National Development Plan IV has no plan for the Department of Works whose portfolio has seen massive growth over the years.
This is the department that accounts for the country’s N$3b developmental budge t.
Since all eyes now fall on the 2013/2014 national budget to see how Government plans to put its finances along the six-month old National Development Plan (NDP4) 2012/13 to 2016/2017, it has emerged that the plan omitted public works which make up the country’s N$3b development budget.
The Department of Works in the Ministry of Works and Transport has compiled a draft document for the National Planning Commission (NPC) to rectify the omission of public works in NDP IV.
Ben Booysen, a director of maintenance in the department confirmed that the discovery was made during a high level planning workshop on NDP IV in Swakopmund which focused on Transport and Logistics.
Public Works was not included in NDP2 and had to be tied to Housing sector in NDP III, before the current omission.
Such inconsistencies of misinterpreting the function of works in Government has resulted in the State leasing office space valued at N$100m annually to the private sector.
“There is a huge need for Government to own its own facilities but it continues (to be) evasive as long as we miss the role of works in development strategies,” said Booysen.
According to NDP III, Namibia had to have an unemployment rate of 33.3% but at the time of its closure, the rate was actually around 44.5%.
According to the NPC, the NDP IV aims to create 90 615 permanent jobs over the next five years reducing unemployment by 5% because unlike its predecessor, it doesn’t cater for public service only.
Nonetheless, it could have achieved more if the Works sector had been included.
“They seemed not to know where works fit in because it is not a sector like mining, education or health. It is a service rendering department,” said Booysen.
If included in NDP IV, Works intend to regulate and monitor the booming construction industry in Namibia.
“There is need to have works in NDP IV because now more than ever the industry is more competitive. We should be the one grading contractors and categorising contracts from SMEs to large scale developers. This will make companies or people with the same skills and experience to compete within the same bracket.
“As it stands, SMEs and large entities in the construction industry are fighting for the same cake, so you don’t expect the smaller ones to succeed,” noted Booysen.
Although NDP IV prioritises the, logistics, tourism, manufacturing and agriculture sectors, the Department of Works argues that the success of these sectors hinge on how it delivers.
Chief Development Planner within the NPC, Fanuel Hiiko noted the oversight but said it was not an omission.
“Works was taken for granted. Because of the responsibility they have where they play a supervisory role in development activities such as construction, houses, rail and rail, there is indeed a need to listen to what they have for NDP IV,” said Hiiko.
Unlike most southern African countries, maintenance is mostly done in-house and not outsourced. The line ministry only has one quantity surveyor, four architects and six engineers servicing the whole country, a move which is crippling the success of the N$3b that comes with the development budget.
Last year Namibia signed deals with its regional counterparts to hire their engineers in the interim and although NPC says other sectors will not be neglected, attention will be shifted to priority sectors to ensure the impact and results are optimal, a move which might create a gap with the development budget.
Booysen further said with the National Construction Industry Bill underway, NDP IV’s inclusion of Works will enable the functioning and provisioning of the National Constructors Council.
If included in NDP IV, Government could constantly improve and review operational efficiency.
Currently Namibia, according to Booysen, has no Asset Management Policy in place.
“The people applying for accommodation in Government property should not be disqualified on any ground because there is no document or policy on how to deal with Government property. We could not do it in NDP IV because we were only tied to Housing, which has other stakeholders like the National Housing Enterprises.”
Government is currently working on an Asset Register to establish the asset base currently estimated to be N$27.5billion with between 10 000 and 12 000 buildings.