- Published on Saturday, 21 July 2012 03:07
- Written by Kiangiosekazi Wa- Nyoka
- Hits: 1143
This is the second year running; our legislatures have been voicing their concerns on the whooping allowances slated in every ministry’s annual budget. Last year, Members of Parliament were angered by the exodus of government officials flocking to Dodoma for the budget session.
We thought maybe, this year the situation would have improved and frugality would have reigned by minimising the number of those officials going to Dodoma. We saw it during the Prime Minister’s submission where most of the regional and district government officials were seen rubbing shoulders in Dodoma. In such a case the question of wastage of funds cannot be overruled.
Dishing allowances despite of sensing the financial constraints our country is facing amounts to laxity in having financial discipline. In this incoming financial year, we are faced with two very important projects that would naturally require funding, the National Population Census and the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC).
Already we are told that CRC will spend 16bn/- as allowances equivalent to 43 percent of the total budget allocated. Yes, there is no doubt of the importance of this task force but this should not be the reason for what looks like lavish spending. How do we convince a taxpayer that his money is judiciously being spent amidst the severe biting of the inflation? Similarly the August National Population Census will equally have a spending spree.
The question of cutting down allowances seems to be too sour to be adopted. There seems to be half attempts of dealing with it. Silently this is euphemism way of dealing with the fangs of inflation! These allowances are affording government officials to have lunch during office hours. It is almost official during lunch time to see hotpots moving around from one office to another with appetizing aroma hovering in the government offices.
The inflation rate in our country is perceived to be in the double digits making life to be very unbearable because of the inflated prices of cereals. The global anxiety over how the nations feed their people at the wake of the world level shortages in food supply is becoming a top agenda in every country. The shortage attributed by bio-fuel production, escalating production costs resulting from rise in fuel and global shortages on food items is forcing countries to looking for ways to ease the burden to their people. Should these allowances be a soft option?
Looking at the National Budgets of most of the countries, efforts have been made to provide some kind of cushions to enable the people contain the rising costs of the food items and the living cost. Others are providing subsidies to staple foods like cereals, bread, beans and sugar.
The high food prices have a significant impact on the country’s consumer price inflation index. That is where the poor needs the government assistance. It has become increasingly clear that without government intervention to moderate the high and rising food prices, our people especially the poor would find it difficult to meet their basic survival needs. In our case, what are the measures that need to be considered to provide relief in such a situation?
We need to review our salary structures and people should be given living wages and not the paltry handouts that are supplemented with these allowances. Why not include these allowances in salary packages, for example having thirteen’s cheque as practised in South African countries. Thirteen’s cheque is one month’s additional salary offered as bonus on the birthday of every worker.
Countries like South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Mauritius have always featured well as Africa’s top ten countries in many aspects. I do not buy the idea that as some of these countries have smaller population that could be the reason of being better off. I have always thought that the bigger the population the better you can collect revenue and have a good financial base of managing effectively and efficiently the country.
Let me give you my personal example having worked in Namibia for over 16 years. The first day of reporting for duty I was assured of a living wage and given an official vehicle with instructions to use it on official duties only within seven days. Meanwhile, I had to purchase my own vehicle on those seven days on what they call “motor vehicle scheme for senior officers.” It is a higher purchase system which the government pays in kind. This is done as fast as possible to avoid making the government incur unnecessary expenses by retaining official vehicle.
For government employees there is no sitting allowance on whatever meeting and that a government official is not allowed to get extra payments on official functions. However, on the permission of the Permanent Secretary you may be allowed to run a private business. For official trips abroad, the airline is responsible for your meals and hotel accommodation and you are given small stipend for laundry and tip.
In 2000, there was a great project on formulation of the Vision 2030 for Namibia and the whole country was working on it. All the ministries and other government agencies were involved in different phases. Civil servants involved in this project ended up with cool drinks, coffee and tea with biscuits in those sessions while private sectors were hired as consultants and paid for the job.
Corruption is controlled and amenability to ethical discipline is of the highest order. As a result there is great sense of frugality, drivers are nonexistence and even heads of security forces- Army, Police and Prisons are driving on their own serve only on ceremonial functions. The movement of official vehicles is subject to inspections by Police Officers if officials are carrying with them trip authorities. At the end of the day the country does not lavishly spend the taxpayer’s money. Can’t we buy a leaf from this best practice?