Government business has been left on auto-pilot for the current financial year after 284 civil servants signed up for study leave, The Villager has learnt.
According to an unreleased report from the public service, 284 Government posts were left unoccupied due to study leave in the 2014/15 financial year.
The number increased from 121 approved applications when compared to the 163 study leave applications received in the 2013/14 financial year. Of those on study leave, 262 are on full remuneration.
However, 20 applications were approved on a 50/50 basis, whereby Government pays only half of their salary. Meanwhile, only two study leave applications were approved, whereby the applicants are not paid.
This comes amid complaints that certain Government Ministries such as the Ministry of Safety and Security, Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health and Social Services are left short-staffed. It was reported last year that Government needs about 18 000 teachers, nurses and police officers to deal with the growing demand.
Government had intentions of increasing the number of civil servants by at least 15 000 in the next few years. The Government looks at increasing the number of civil servants to 130 000 from the 97 535 currently employed civil servants, although the structure provides for 129 560 positions.
This information was in accordance with the budget statement made by former Finance Minister and now Prime Minister Sara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila.
If the 14 741 positions are occupied in this financial year, the number of civil servants will reach 112 276. If all these positions are occupied, salaries and conditions of employment for individual employees are expected to take up more than a third of the total budget.
Rhingo Mutambo, the Communications’ Practitioner at the Public Service Commission (PSC), told the Villager this week that the country employs foreigners to fill in the skills’ shortages which are lacking in the country.
“We thus allow Government officials to go out to study and acquire the skills which are needed in the country. The PSC recommends study leave in terms of human resources and we see whether it is beneficial in terms of the skills’ gap, then we allow that person to leave the country. The PSC needs to give approval to the different Ministries when people want to go on study leave”, Mutambo noted.
He said when the PSC approves study leave, it looks at things like the applicant’s personal development plan and their performance agreement, and if the two are not aligned, the application would not be approved.
“The study leave should be in line with the career path, and it should be beneficial to the whole public service. Currently, the job shortages are in Medicine, Geology, Psychology, Law and Engineering and any Science-related jobs”, he said.
In the 2014/15 financial year, the Health Ministry had the highest number of applicants, which stood at 90 as opposed to the 40 which was recorded in the preceding financial year. In the 2013/14 financial year, 25 of the study leave applications were approved on the basis of 50/50, whereby Government pays half their salaries, and only two applicants were not Drivers to cough up N$12b for getting paid.
The Education ministry approved 52 study leave applications in the 2014/15 financial, while the Safety Ministry only approved 22 study leave applications. These have been the Ministries which were seen to be understaffed by about 18 000 jobs.
In the 2013/14 financial year, the Education ministry approved 58 study leave applications which was the highest, followed by the Health Ministry, although the Ministry of Safety only approved four study leave applications.
Government, however, only declined three study leave applications in the 2014/15 financial year, as opposed to the two study leave declines witnessed in the 2013/14 financial year. In addition, only two applicants in the period under review had their applications approved without full remuneration, compared to the one person in the 2013/14 financial year.