Government wage bill a concern: Geingob

17 Apr 2019 17:20pm
WINDHOEK, 17 APR (NAMPA) – President Hage Geingob on Wednesday reiterated that the increased public wage bill has become an issue of concern that needs to be addressed.
Speaking here during his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA), Geingob said given the current economic environment, Government believes it can do more with less.
The president said the wage bill, which comprises the Political Office Bearers (POBs), civil servants and uniformed personnel, has risen due to annual inflation adjustments, the filling of critical vacant posts, an increase in public entities and job evaluation and re-grading conducted in 2016/17.
“In some countries, teachers and uniformed personnel are excluded from the public service wage bill,” Geingob remarked while explaining why the wage bill has increased.
He cautioned that whilst Government is currently the largest employer, in an environment characterised by high levels of unemployment, attempts at downsizing should be treated with utmost care.
“It would be unreasonable to downsize overnight, as rapid reductions in the public service would only exacerbate the already high unemployment rate in the country.”
Geingob also pointed out that contrary to popular belief, the total wage and benefits of POBs represent N.dollars 160 million out of the N.dollars 29 billion overall wage bill.
“Said differently, this represents 0,06 per cent of the public service wage bill, including both houses of Parliament,” he defended.
POBs have shown willingness to a once-off voluntary salary contribution of two per cent of their nett salary for the year 2019, despite the current tough economic situation, he revealed.
“If Parliamentarians who are being consulted are agreeable, contributions will be deducted as a payroll deduction, with the potential to raise the sizeable amount of approximately N.dollars 3.2 million. The funds will be channelled towards identified social programmes, as a demonstration of our personal commitment,” he said.
Geingob further noted that the Prime Minister has been tasked with negotiating agreeable salary adjustments with civil servants, which will be implemented as soon as an agreement has been reached.
Geingob termed his fifth SONA “an accountability report which reinforces the essence of the country’s Constitutional democracy”.