Ministers not responsible for financial management: Nujoma

27 Jun 2013 09:40
WINDHOEK, 27 JUN (NAMPA) ? An intense debate on the functions of Cabinet Ministers played itself out in Parliament on Tuesday, with Minister of Justice Uutoni Nujoma expressing concern to a statement that minister?s whose ministries are not performing should be brought before public hearings.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts on Central Government recommended that should the situation not improve in ministries identified as none-performing, the minister would be called in for public hearings.
The public accounts committee (PAC) made the recommendation after studying the financial accounts of all ministries for the financial years 2009 to 2011.
PAC chairperson Usutuaije Maamberua tabled the report in Parliament here on Tuesday.
The Ministry of Justice is one of the ministries reported to have exceeded its budget of 2011 by N.dollars 11 665 802.34.
In its report the committee explained that during the financial years mentioned above it had in-camera meetings with various ministers to inform them on issues raised by the Office of the Auditor-General which had been recurring over the years in their audit reports.
During those meetings with ministers the committee wanted to know the extent to which the ministers were informed about financial managements and controls in their ministries, and reminded them of their roles and responsibilities as provided for in Article 41 of the Namibian Constitution.
However, Nujoma had a problem with the recommendation, saying there is a clear demarcation of responsibilities, and that this demarcation is clearly stated in the States? Finance Act.
?Article 40 of the Namibian Constitution makes no mention of financial responsibilities with regard to ministers. What is stated here is that members of Cabinet shall direct, supervise and coordinate the activities of ministries, government departments, including parastatals and enterprises,? he said.
Nujoma stressed that ministers do not have the authority to approve payments, and thus wanted to know why he should be held accountable for work which ministers are not responsible for.
The Justice Minister then gave an example of his ministry, saying he is not responsible for prosecutions in his ministry - the Attorney-General makes decisions in that regard.
?I would caution that we must not temper with the balance. Our Constitution provides for the separation of powers, which is a cardinal principal. How can the Executive appear before the Legislation,? the Justice Minister asked.
Nujoma then continued to state that he wants the sanctity of powers to be maintained, and was merely giving his personal views on the matter.
Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) Member of Parliament (MP) Heiko Lucks then wanted to know whether the Justice Minister was proposing that ministers should not be held accountable.
Uutoni responded that ministers should be held accountable, but what he does not want is for the legislature to ?parade? the ministers at these hearings.