Government prioritizing pressing issues over benefits and salary increments: Simataa

05 Jul 2019 13:10pm
WINDHOEK, 05 JUL (NAMPA) – Secretary to Cabinet, George Simataa on Thursday said government’s priority is to reduce youth unemployment with over 6000 unemployed graduates, attend to the plight of 12 000 tertiary students in need of financial assistance and address drought problems.
Simataa said this on Thursday in a media statement availed to Nampa, where he was responding to queries about the status of negotiations between government and the two trade unions -the Namibia Public Workers Union and Namibia National Teachers Union- on salary and benefit increment proposed by the unions recently.
He said government is committed towards maintaining the good relations built with the trade unions over the years, but they have to understand that due the economic situation, with the country having been in a recession since 2016/2017, public servants should not expect any salary or benefit increment.
He said that government is also trying to reduce the public service wage bill which stands at over N.dollars 30 billion of the total government budget of N.dollars 66.5 billion, which constitutes a ratio of 45 per cent for 109 000 public service staff members.
“The most worrying factor is that it deprives other citizens of an equal share of the national income. During our meetings, we stressed the fact that the situation of a small group of people taking up close to half of the national cake than the larger population cannot be sustainable,” said Simataa.
He added that during the meetings, the government's negotiating team emphasized on problems that continue to be caused by the persistent drought, and that thus, it will not be responsible and fair for government to grant salary and benefits increment to those who already have an income without considering the rest of the citizens.
He added that government is also focusing on creating employment opportunities for health professionals while also finding a solution to addressing the lack of textbooks, classrooms and other teaching facilities.