Ministries underspend 2017/18 budget allocation

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Magreth Nunuhe

Windhoek – Key Namibian government ministries underspent their budget allocations for development purposes by more than R151 million in the 2017/2018 financial year in the wake of declining revenue streams and an economy that has entered a recession.

The Ministry of Urban and Rural Development, which returned R53 million to Treasury, spent 89.7% (R469 million) of the R523 million budget allocation during that fiscal year amid an acute shortage of affordable housing and inadequate land delivery.

These statistics are revealed in the government’s Accountability Report for the Financial Year 2017/2018, which provides a summary of government’s achievements and milestones and how it performed against appropriate budgets for the year under review.

Ministry of Health and Social Services development execution rate was 86.2%, revealing that it underspent by R44 million, following a R319 million allocation of which only R275 million was used in that financial year.

Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources executed only 36.2% (R19 million) of its allocated budget of R54 million for development purposes.

The report revealed that only one out of 35 Namibian government offices, ministries and agencies (OMAs) overspent on their budgets in the 2017/18 financial year.

The OMA that overspent was the Ministry of Safety and Security, which went over the budget by 0.8% for development purposes.

When it comes to operational expenditure, there was a notable improvement in the number of OMAs that overspent, reducing from 12 OMAs to in 2016/17 to four.

Ministry of Basic Education was allocated a budget of R12.4 billion for that period, but ended up spending R13.1 billion - 5.4% over expenditure.

The total budget allocation for the year under review for the Ministry of Health and Social Services was R6.6 billion, but actual spending rose to R6.8 billion (3% over expenditure.

According to the report, justice overspent by 0.3%, given an initial budget of R252 million, which rose to R253 million at the end of the 2017/18 financial year.

Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry also exceeded its budget expenditure by 0.3% with a budget allocation of R1.4 billion to R1.5 billion.

Overall, the OMAs improved their budget execution rates by an average of 90% compared to the previous financial year, although the degree to which execution rates fell varied considerably.

The fiscal consolidation policy that was introduced in 2016/17 budget under the theme “Towards a Pro-Growth fiscal consolidation” was aimed at halting unsustainable government expenditure with the intention of narrowing the previously expansionary budget deficit as a percentage of GDP.

“As we commit to the principle of accountability, Parliament and the public are encouraged to demand OMAs to provide progress in as far as the utilisation of public resources is concerned at any time of a particular financial year (s),” said the Minister of Finance, Calle Schlettwein.

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