THE perpetual bail-outs of State Owned Enterprises that were initially created to earn revenue for the Namibian Government as commercial entities can no longer be logically sustained by the treasury in the current economic climate.
The Minister of Finance, Calle Schettwein during a question and answer session where the Mid-Year Budget Review was discussed said entities such as the national airline and the national broadcaster will have to find ways to finance their operations without the continuous help of the main shareholder.
“We will have to ask ourselves the question if we really do believe that Air Namibia in its current configuration and with the budget it receives, will spend the money wisely or do we ask ourselves if there is not a better way to spend the money. The money allocated to Air Namibia each year could for instance be spent to create jobs for the youth.”
Minister Schlettwein was of the opinion that the N$2 billion spent each year to keep Air Namibia in the air could very well be used to manage airports better that would ensure that other airlines will make use of the facilities and bring tourists to the country’s shores. With regards to the open sky policy he said Namibia acceded to a number of protocols to invite other airlines to fly into Namibia.
“Despite two turn-around strategies the burden on the national coffers has become heavier and the scenario is not likely to change. In fact the drain will become worse and might soon become N$3 billion per year.”
Minister Schlettwein was of the opinion that the Government policy to eradicate inequality could be much better served by creating employment opportunities for the youth.
With regards to the NBC Minister Schlettwein said the difficult issue is that the treasury is not too sure whether the resources availed to the enterprise are actually utilised for the purpose it was intended for.
“At the treasury we hoped that more stringent allocation of bail-outs would spur them on to restructure, get leaner and to change their old spending habits. That unfortunately did not happen and it has turned into an opulent situation where they keep relying on the shareholder for bail-outs.”
The minister said government as the shareholder expected that they NBC come to the party with a changed attitude, but instead they granted themselves salary increases when times were already tough. Schlettwein said when times are tough it’s tough for everyone not just for some people.
“Have they analysed if the people earning a salary of a million dollars actually deliver work worth a million dollars? Have they bought their equipment at the best price? Have they worked on streamlining their operation? I have not seen anything like that happening. They were going to use a different approach but that has not yet become obvious.”
Schlettwein said the national broadcaster was not tough on itself and will now have to find ways to improve their service delivery and honour their mandate with the little they have or live with the reduced resource allocation.
He said that in the current mid-year budget N$54 million was availed to the NBC to keep the broadcaster afloat.