Prioritisation key in curbing excessive wage bill – Steenkamp

02 Jan 2018 15:20pm
WINDHOEK, 02 JAN (NAMPA) - The Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture (MoEAC) will apply prudent fiscal measures and conduct a needs analysis if operating with meagre financial resources is anything to go by in 2018.
The MoEAC’s budget was cut from N.dollars 12.32 billion in 2016/17 financial year to N.dollars 11.97 billion in the 2017/18, about N.dollars 350 million less than the previous year.
The ministry is concerned that about 85 per cent of its entire budget goes to the remuneration of staff while a paltry 15 per cent is left to cater for the ministry’s operational cost.
Speaking to Nampa recently, MoEAC Permanent Secretary (PS), Sanet Steenkamp, said the ministry is faced with an avalanche of challenges which include a high wage bill; over staffing; late disbursement of funds and a meagre budget allocation.
To address the huge wage bill, Steenkamp said the ministry will liaise with the Office of the Prime Minister prior to the filling of vacancies.
“Once we want to employ or advertise, we need to seek audience with the Office of the Prime Minister. Secondly, we had to employ compensatory reduction strategies. That means if I have 17 positions and they are all vacant, I have to check which of the 17 [the ministry] really needs [as a top priority] and fill maybe six of them,” Steenkamp said.
This was manifested by the delay of the teacher vacancy list last year which allowed the ministry to do an in-depth analysis of overstaffed schools versus understaffed school, Steenkamp added.
“This process allowed us to see if we cannot transfer teachers within their field of specialisation from an overstaffed school to an understaffed school. Those are the things that we have done to curb the wage bill,” Steenkamp added.
This, however, has made the ministry unpopular in the public eye according to Steenkamp.
“We have become very unpopular because posts that were vacant were not filled because we had to choose which post do we see as most critical and which is not,” she expounded.
Steenkamp further stressed that prioritisation of the ministry’s needs will be key in 2018.