Ministry of Labour gulp N$1.4m on S&T

The Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation’ (MLIREC) has gulped N$1.4 million on travel and subsistence allowance (S&T) in the first quarter of its budget.
This was 8% out of the total budgeted N$18.3 million for S&T. Meanwhile, the ministry’s annual budget stands at N$351.2 million.
In addition, the ministry is set to improve the remuneration structure by N$8.9 million but in the first quarter the ministry did not spent anything from the budgeted funds.
In total, the ministry’s expenses in the first quarter cost approximately N$64.2 million. According to the budget plan, the ministry spent 70% of the N$31.1 million it budgeted on individuals and non-profit organisations; this was N$21.7 million of the budgeted funds.
The individuals and non-profit organisations that enjoy the ministry’s support are basically the workmen’s compensation which fall under social security. That money is used to fund the bills of those employees who were injured on the job in the first quarter.
Meanwhile, the ministry’s budget for remuneration takes the biggest chunk with N$83 million and thus far 33% of that was spent which amounted to N$27.3 million.
The funds spent were in line with the ministry’s strategic plan meant to last for a period of five years that was implemented in 2013 to 2017.
Acting Permanent Secretary and Employment Equity Commissioner Vilbard Usiku told The Villager this week that in accordance with the plan the ministry’s Affirmative Action plan has seen significant progress as it witnessed an applicable representation of a number of women and previously disadvantaged Namibians in management positions at reputable companies.
He added that the challenge the ministry has not been able to tackle is an equitable representation of disabled people in management positions.
He said disabled people are under-represented at all levels but the ministry is ensuring that this can change.
Usiku said that the ministry was able to achieve industrial harmony as there were less strikes in the country in the previous financial year.
“Yes, we acknowledge that employer and employee disputes arise but we are working towards ensuring the prevention of strikes. This can be attributed to the ministry’s objective of the proactive approach. We have a directorate of labour services whereby our labour inspectors ensure employers comply with the act. Inspectors from the Division of Labour visit most work places to ensure compliance and also ensure that the working environment is safe,” he said.
The strategic plan is a guiding tool for the ministry’s staff members to execute their duties according to a set out structure.
It was crafted to specifically deal with the promotion of employment creation, the improvement of industrial relations through tripartite dialogue, employment equity and the promotion of occupational safety and health conditions at the workplace.  
Usiku said the plan needed to be revised and new objectives set to delink the old mandate and accommodate the new.
“The plan was a policy directive of government, these are the plans in place to execute the mandate. Like the former president said, if you do not plan, you plan to fail,” Usiku said.
He added that all staff members signed performance agreements, with set performance objectives that clearly stipulate each staff member’s role in the implementation of the strategic plan.
“When the Ministry’s mandate was re-defined in March this year by His Excellency, President Geingob. The successful implementation of the ministry’s strategic plan is therefore, largely attributed to this participative and inclusive approach,” he said.
He went on to say the ministry has a clear and well defined vision to deliver on its mandate and has an equally dedicated staff to execute the programmes in line with the ministry’s mandate.
Meanwhile, Alphaus Muheua, the MLIREC Deputy Minister said to The Villager this week that the ministry has been on track with its strategic plan although the ministry had to review it to realign it with the current mandate the ministry has to carry out with the new government in place.
The social component of the ministry was removed and moved to a different ministry but the ministry took on a new mandate which is employment creation.
“We basically had to restructure our strategic plan to make it suitable but what I can say is that we have been successful with the plan,” Muheua said.
Muheua added that the ministry did not get extra funds for its new mandate which is to create employment, he said that the request the ministry sent was not approved by treasury.
“In order to execute and implement the new mandate, we submitted the amount we need for the new mandate but it was not approved but treasury will look into it during the mid-term review and look into how much the ministry spent or underspend to allocate resources for the new mandate,” he said.
He stressed that as a ministry, they need to ensure that a conducive environment is created for investors and locals to thrive in creating jobs.
“Job creation is a priority we take seriously in order to eradicate poverty. People need employment hence our priority to create employment. In September or October we will be hosting a labour conference where our stakeholders and the unemployed youth will be in attendance to come up with measures of how employment may be created,” Muheua said.
Muheua added that the challenges the ministry faced was having the necessary resources mainly human and financial resources.
“For instance you can set up a plan and put down the costs but what you request from treasury may be slashed and a new budget approved. What we can do is make do with what we have. However, these are not insurmountable challenges as we could deal with them. I can say is the plan is on track and we have achieved what we set out,” Muheua said.