THE government of Namibia is expected to save N$200 million (about $13.4 million) for five years by cutting on costly perks to office-bearers.
President Hage Geingob has directed that no new vehicle fleets will be purchased for members of the executive and public office bearers.
‘This decision by President Geingob, expressly during this difficult period of Covid-19, will translate into an approximate saving of 200 million Namibian dollars. President Geingob has also directed a cap on monthly fuel consumption by public office bearers,’ presidential spokesperson Alfredo Hengari said in a statement.
He said after becoming president in 2015, Geingob had undertaken a major reform agenda to deal with declining government revenue as a consequence of an unprecedented global economic downturn, falling commodity prices and exchange rate fluctuations.
‘Recurrent droughts over the past five years, of which the last was in 2019, have also affected the fiscal position of the government. In 2019 alone, an amount of 557 million Namibian dollars was redirected to drought relief, reaching 622,444 Namibians in all 14 regions,’ said Hengari.
Over the past five years government spending had been reduced by nine percent, while annual travel and subsistence allowances had been cut by 62 percent.
Hengari said Geingob’s decision not to renew the government fleet was a crucial segment in redirecting public resources to urgent priorities, specifically at a time when the country was dealing with the health and economic implications of Covid-19.
Namibia has recorded 16 Covid-19 infections to date, making it one of the countries with the lowest case numbers in the world. Of those 16, 12 people have recovered from the virus.
Local media reported that medical experts were puzzled that the Romanian couple, who were the first to test positive for the coronavirus in the southern African country, remained ill after 59 days.
The Namibian Sun daily newspaper said the couple appeared to be the exception to findings from studies that the coronavirus could stay in the human body for up to 37 days.
Since being first diagnosed with the virus on March 14, the Romanians have consistently tested positive despite being asymptomatic throughout. The Namibian Sun said it was unclear whether the 35-year-old man and his 25-year-old wife had underlying illnesses.