. . . Finance canÔÇÖt cough-up
Uncertainties within the global economy will play a crucial role on how the Ministry of Finance will handle the implementation of the N$5b Cabinet directives by the Ministry of Education.
The Ministry of Education is requesting N$1.1b as additional funds in the 2012/13 budget to implement some of the recommendations made at the educational conference last year.
However, The Villager understands that the Ministry of Finance can only afford N$180m this financial year leaving a shorfall of N$920m.
Minister of Finance, Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila admitted the Cabinet directives on conference resolutions have major financial implications.
Although Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said education will always remain Government’s top priority to ensure that youths are equipped with the necessary skills that would make them key players in the country’s economic growth, the Euro-zone crisis has affected the world economic outlook and in the case of Namibia, the few available resources cannot cater for all additional fund requests from ministries.
“We can only cater for the ministries who had requested for increment within the available limited resources. The Euro-zone crisis has affected the whole world economic outlook and both the World Bank and IMF have revised their projections.
"We have also revised our growth projections downward, which means there will be few resources available, however, education will always be the Government top priority and unfortunately, I cannot reveal how much additional funds will be given to them,” said Amadhila.
Kuugongelwa-Amadhila urged all stakeholders to co-operate and ensure that the scarce resources are allocated to areas of priority.
Finance Permanent Secretary, Erica Shafudah said they have considered the merits of the request by the Ministry of Education and have found out that most of the programmes articulated are similar to the existing programmes under MTEF.
“Most of the Cabinet directives do not speak of new things and most of the planned projects are part of the Ministry of Education’s usual programmes within MTEF,” said Shafudah.
She argued that the current limited fiscal space does not allow the Ministry of Finance to accommodate the full amount requested by the Ministry of Education in form of additional funding to what is projected in MTEF.
Her ministry, Shafudah added, will continue to monitor fiscal projections to determine how to respond to the additional fund requests from ministries.
“If the situation in the Euro-zone continues, it will affect our economy as most of our exports go to Europe and this will lead to a slowdown in economic growth in the country,” said Shafudah.
This will be the second time in two years whereby MoE has asked for additional funds to cater for inadequacies.
In 2010, Cabinet gave a nod for the disbursement of N$85m for urgent and immediate use in five priority areas.
An amount of N$36.3m was spent on the provision of 183 classrooms at schools identified by regional education authorities to reverse the situation of learners undertaking lessons under trees, in tents, in makeshift classrooms and overcrowded classrooms.
"An estimated 6954 learners will benefit from this intervention, which will include construction of new classrooms, erecting pre-fabricated classrooms and extending existing facilities in 11 of the 13 regions. An amount of N$11 789 000 will be used to repair blocked toilets and windows in the most severely dilapidated schools and hostels across the country," said Dr Abraham Iyambo at the time.
A third priority was leaking pipes and taps that were repaired to the tune of N$14 470 000 to improve the situation at more than 200 schools countrywide.
"A total of 18 981 learners across all regions are affected by the lack of school furniture, resulting in some sitting on the floor, others sharing the available chairs or sitting on steel frames, yet others stay standing during lessons.
“An amount of N$10 378 593 was approved for the procurement of new classroom furniture (desks and chairs) and the refurbishment of old furniture, which is salvageable," the minister said then.