Employee welfare will not be compromised

… as cost cutting measures hit international relations ministry

By Hilary Mare

DEPUTY Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah has moved to reassure  employees of her ministry including Namibian diplomats that the welfare of the employees, as well as the institutional mandate will not be compromised as the ministry complies with national directives to implement cost cutting measures.

This follows a directive by treasury that all offices, ministries and agencies devise cost cutting measures to reduce expenditure due to economic downturn with the total revenue projected to be at a lower level in 2021/2022, compared to the current financial year.

“As such, the ministry has considered the various economic classifications to heed to this call. This includes reviewing the operational structure of the headquarters and the missions, and to re-align priorities to do more with less. Needless to say, these measures will inadvertently affect certain economic classifications which include reducing operational costs at the missions and at headquarters,” Nandi-Ndaitwah said further stating that her ministry continues to engage all stakeholders on possible cost cutting measures, and to ensure sustainable and equitable implementation.

Recently, Confidente reported that the Ministry of Finance had informed all heads of mission that any contribution towards diplomats’ dependents’ education will cease from April 1 2021.

In a leaked circular seen by Confidente, executive director in the ministry, Ericah Shafudah who highlighted that “this directive was final” further noted that as per staff rule, government was to contribute 85 percent and the other 15 percent was to be contributed by parents towards education allowance.

“Kindly furnish our office with records of payments of the 15 percent contribution per Mission over a period of five years. Should there be those who have not contributed, you are advised to apply the State Finance Act 31 of 1991 and collect what is due to the State by 01 April 2021,” Shafudah told executive directors in the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation, Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation, Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security, Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform, Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade as well as the Ministry of Works and Transport in a letter dated December 18 2020.

Furthermore, Shafudah noted that the heads of mission are urged to revisit their rental fees (accommodation for officials) to ensure that reasonable amounts for rental fees are agreed upon for new contracts taking into account the negative effects of Covid-19 on the fiscus.

“The ministry is requesting your good offices to provide us with the list of rentals paid for by government on behalf of diplomats. Should there be any contribution by diplomats, kindly provide that information per mission,” further stated Shafudah in the circular.