REMUNERATION AND BENEFITS OF PUBLIC OFFICE BEARERS

March 14, 2017, 6:07pm

 

 

The Namibian and the Namibian Sun newspapers of Monday 13 March 2017 published leading stories on the basis of undisclosed information, regarding the salaries and benefits of Public Office Bearers. We can confirm that the information used was not officially sanctioned. Be that as it may, we confirm the following facts.
Firstly, the Namibian President, His Excellency Dr. Hage G Geingob has always adhered to the mantra that “Transparency + Accountability = Trust” both in politics and public life. Guided by that principle, the Swapo Party Government has been characterized by increased transparency and openness.
To that end, the President intends to share the salaries and benefits of all Public Office Bearers with the Namibian public in keeping to his promise of being transparent and accountable. 
The Public Office Bearers are the President, Founding and Former President, Vice-President, First Ladies, Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Ministers, Deputy Ministers, all Special Advisors, Members of the Public Service Commission, Director General of the National Central Intelligence Service, Regional Governors, Members of Regional Councils, Members of the National Assembly, Members of the National Council, Auditor General and the Attorney General. 
We wish to make the following observations:
1. A 6% salary increase for 2017/18 for Public Officer Bearers was wrongly reported by some media houses. That increase was approved two years earlier and implemented by 1 April 2016 and as budgeted for in that year (2016) as well. The correct information is that there is no salary increase planned for 2017/18. 
2. The overall expense budget tabled by the Minister of Finance last week reflects N$62.6 Billion for the Financial Year 2017/18. 
3. Out of that Total Budget the Public Service Wage Bill represents N$28.1 billion or 44.9% of total budget. That amount includes the personnel expenditure of Political Office Bearers. It is different from the 49% reported by the Minister of Finance, which amount (49%) is based on statutory expenditure and is therefore not the total budget.
4. The total personnel expenditure and benefit of the Public Office Bearers (326 individuals in total) represent N$264.3 million or 0.9% of the total Public Service Wage Bill. Alternatively this is 0.4% of the total budget.
5. The Cabinet Ministers expense represents N$36.3 million or 0.13% of the total personnel expenditure or 0.06% of the total budget. 
6. The Presidency represents N$13.6 million or 0.04% of the total personnel expenditure. Differently put it is 0.02% of the total budget.
(The Presidency is defined to include the Sitting President, Vice President, Former and Founding Presidents and Advisors in the Presidency.)
7. The seven (7) Advisors in the Presidency represent N$7.4 million or 0.03% of the total personnel expenditure or 0.01% of the total budget.
It is also critical to compare the earnings of Public Office Bearers to what is commonly known remuneration practices in the State Owned Enterprises sector and to the Namibian Private Sector. Fair remuneration wages have to be benchmarked to the market because skills and talents are mobile and would be deployed where they are best rewarded. This is also applicable to both the public and private sectors.
This point is well illustrated in Tables 1 and 2 below which display Annual Guaranteed Remuneration packages for CEOs in the State Owned Enterprises and selected listed Private Sector Companies. 
TABLE 1: SOEs Annual Guaranteed Remuneration
Amount NAD (million)
Electricity Control Board 2.6
Motor Vehicle Accident Fund 2.4
Nampower 2.3
Nampost 2.1
University of Namibia 2.1
SatCom 2.0
Development Bank of Namibia 2.0
Namibia Student Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) 1.9
Namibia University of Science and Technology 1.9
Telecom Namibia 1.8
New Era Publications 1.7
NamPort 1.6
Environment Investment Fund 1.6
*Source: Ministry of Public Enterprises
Based on the above, the question should be asked whether it is fair remuneration for the President to be paid less than the heads of some State Owned Enterprises based on complexity of decisionmaking.
TABLE 2: Annual Total Emoluments of CEOs of a couple of NSX Listed Private Sector Companies
Amount NAD (million)
FNB Namibia 3.5 million
BIDVest Namibia 3.1 million
*Source: NSX Listed Companies, Annual Reports
The remuneration for Private Sector Top Executives average N$2.9 million per annum with some private sector Chief Executive Officers earning more than N$4.0 million guaranteed remuneration, excluding performance and other bonuses. 
INVESTMENTS IN THE YOUTH AND SOCIAL SECTORS
The Presidency would like to use this opportunity to draw attention to some important budgetary items other than personnel expenditure that have been tabled by the Minister of Finance, in the current budget. These include significant budgetary outlays for social expenditure and subsidies directed towards higher education and vocational training aimed at creating opportunities for the youth through skills development, thereby improving their employability. 
In the case of social expenditure the 2017/18 budget allocates N$27.4 billion or 47.7% of the total budget towards Education, Health, Gender and Child Welfare, social safety nets and poverty eradication. Of that amount N$6.3 billion or 10.1% of the total budget has been allocated towards sustaining various poverty reducing social safety nets such as the old age social grant, grants to war veterans, orphans and vulnerable citizens and people living with disabilities. 
Furthermore in the current budget the Education sector received N$15.8 billion or 24% of the total budget, further broken down as follows:
o N$963 million for Namibia Student Financial Assistance Fund or 1.5% of total budget; 
o N$926 million for UNAM or 1.5% of the total budget;
o N$534 million for NUST or 0.9% of the total budget; and
o N$382 million for Namibia Training Authority or 0.6% that is responsible for the promotion of vocational education and technical training.
CONCLUSION
The Namibian Government recognizes the need to contain the wage bill to sustainable levels, while acknowledging the skewed economic legacy. Emphasis on right sizing, cost containment, service delivery, efficiency gains and natural attrition are amongst key considerations to enjoy priority.
Moreover, it is worth stating that Public Office Bearers serve the Namibian people either at the behest of the Appointing Authority or are directly elected to Public Office for a limited term in office. The POBC as an independent and constitutionally established Office determines benefits and salaries for such officers, based on international best practice and do from time to time make recommendation to the President for his consideration. These are monies earned as fair remuneration for a fair day’s work based on the complexity of decision-making. To criminalise and characterize the elected politicians and appointed officials as thieves is therefore unfair and mischievous. 
Finally, the suggestion that the President’s voluntary donation of 34% of his salary is meant to offset his tax exemption is absurd. On the contrary this is a gesture that should be welcomed by all and emulated by many more Namibians where those with a bit more share with those with little or nothing in order to build a better society for all of us. 
Albertus Aochamub
Press Secretary
Office of the President
Statehouse, Windhoek, Namibia