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NEW ERA | The importance of financing the manufacturing sector Page 12 Erongo Youth Career Exhibition gets financial boost Page 13 INSIDE BUSINESS This news is your business Schlettwein calls for commitment to improve efficiency Edgar Brandt Windhoek Ministry of Finance (MoF) staff have been reminded that the efficiency of the ministry’s service delivery depends on the commitment of each staff member in terms of daily output, the systems and technology at their disposal and the processes they employ. Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein refreshed the minds of ministerial staff members on Friday during their second staff meeting for the year, emphasising that the weak link in the supply chain is where fault lines lie. “Our risk-based management measures should eliminate potential fault lines and assimilate alternative remedial measures in the system, systems and ICT solutions are at the core of our service delivery. We should ensure their efficient functioning and have up-to-date back-up plans, including continuing skills development,” said Schlettwein. Speaking to a packed auditorium at the National Theatre of Namibia, Schlettwein said the ministry’s new strategic plan, as aligned to NDP5 and the Harambee Prosperity Plan, is the basis for the performance commitments and individual performance agreements. Thus, he said, managers and supervisors are accountable for performance targets and should ensure that each staff member has a performance agreement that is owned and accounted for. “I should emphasise the need for results-oriented performance management, collective ownership of our strategic goals and teamwork to deliver on our targets so that no single staff member of the ministry feels left out,” Schlettwein stated. Friday’s second staff meeting took place a day after the ministry’s management team assessed the progress the ministry’s staff have made against targets set at the beginning of the financial year. “We have developed a new fiveyear strategic plan and set strategic targets that are aligned to the Fifth National Development Plan (NDP5) and the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP2). These targets span all areas of our institutional and sectoral mandate; from economic policy advice to revenue management, expenditure and liabilities management, administration of public, private partnerships and public procurement oversight, civil service medical aid administration and the provision of common support services,” Schlettwein explained. “The year 2017 and, thus, the current financial year, is equally an enterprising one for the Ministry of Finance. It calls for more urgency and an innovative approach to our routine functions. It calls for continuous monitoring of the outputs and outcomes for each one of us on a weekly, if not on a daily basis,” Schlettwein added. He told staff that with government expenditure now aligned to a realistic revenue framework, the risks are now tilted on the expenditure side. However, Schlettwein cautioned that targeted expenditure cuts made as part of the consolidation programme have elevated pressures on spending and the risks of overspending. “We should set out contours and forward-looking frameworks to contain spending within budgeted levels. Forward expenditure plans should articulate measures to keep spending within appropriated levels and without raising future unbudgeted liabilities.” He said the new norm is to focus on what more can be done with less resources and increasingly achieving more efficiency gains, than focusing on what cannot be done. “The cash management framework should constantly review and address spending priorities and risks and the incidence of accumulation of Calle Schlettwein unbudgeted invoices should be eliminated. It [the latter] does not only show complete lack of financial discipline, but also undermines the budget process and the fiscal framework. “The budget, as appropriated, is fully funded through budget revenue and proceeds from financing; the Treasury Authorization Warrants (TAWs) should be prudently crafted and coordinated with OMAs (offices, ministries and agencies) so that essential services are prioritised and not negatively impacted.” He confirmed that the 2017/18 budget review will be tabled during the September session of parliament. Buy-a-Brick brings joy to Rehoboth community Staff Reporter Windhoek The once lifeless and sombre ‘Red Dunes’ location of Rehoboth as it is affectionately known in Block E has finally come to life, all owing to Standard Bank’s Buy-a-Brick initiative in collaboration with the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia (SDFN). Happy children skip along dusty red footpaths and neighbours trade the day’s news over warm cups of tea. In a few short months this community has transformed immensely, with most of its residents having previously lived in shacks or were forced to rent because they could not afford to buy houses. In 2015, Standard Bank and SDFN launched its flagship Buya-Brick initiative in a bid to help alleviate the housing shortage for no or low income households. Funds were raised through the sale of token bricks in the form of erasers, and the funds are subsequently given to the federation whose members use it to build their houses. The recipients of these funds pay it back for the next members who will need it also to build their houses. One such beneficiary of the project is 51-year-old Martha Engelbrecht who can finally proudly say she is a home owner. “When I joined the federation in February last year I started saving 10 cents and 50 cents and my children would always ask me what I was doing with so many coins. By August last year I was able to start building and I am very happy that I now have a house, I thank God,” she said. An unemployed mother with eight children under her care, Engelbrecht said she was in dire need of a house so when she got the opportunity she started building slowly but surely, starting off with building a one-bedroom, and she has gradually been extending as she has a kitchen now. “I was eager for a house and God saw my need. My prayers have been answered and I am really grateful,” she stressed. Having seen the progress Engelbrecht made, her daughter Senorita Nawema said she was motivated also to join the federation so that she would be able to put a roof over her child’s head. “I worked on my own house and built it myself. What is important is that you work by doing your best all the time. I also collected coins and saved as much as possible because a little bit really does help,” 28-yearold Nawema said. Father of two Tony Titus agreed with Nawema, stressing that it is important that one commits oneself to do one’s best to build a house. “We used to rent a house and it would cost N,000 per month which was just too much for me. I joined the federation in April and we started saving for an erf and we eventually got one. My wife, two daughters and I started making bricks every day until we were able to build our house,” he explained. Titus added that he is happy that he no longer has to rent around Rehoboth and now sleeps happily and peacefully knowing he is in his own home. Sharon Naris, the youngest beneficiary of the Buy-a-Brick initiative in the community, has been able to build a one-bedroom house she can call her own, a feat that most 23-year-olds cannot boast. “Trying to save and build a house was very challenging, especially because I faced many financial constraints but I am glad that I made it because my mother is blind and I need to provide for us,” she said. Naris urged all youth who find themselves without a roof over their heads to join the federation and start saving so that they can build their own home too. While it may seem that only people in their youth are interested in these houses as they start a family, it is not the case. There are a significant number of elderly people who have never had the fortune of owning a brick house who have benefitted from the initiative. The 64-year-old Elizabeth van Wyk, 60-year-old Gerhard van Wyk and 60-year-old Katrina Hanse were able to finally build brick houses for themselves, their children and grandchildren all thanks to the Standard Bank Buy-a-Brick initiative. The Van Wyks lived on Groendraai farm but they did not have their own home so they moved to Rehoboth. It was there that they heard about the federation and joined the organisation. Although it was difficult, the couple worked hard to save as much as they could so they would be able to build a house and did so with funds from the Buy-a-Brick initiative. “We set up a shack first while we waited on starting to build – then began with our foundation and slowly built until our house was complete. We are thankful to God, as well as the federation and Standard Bank for making it possible for us to have a place we can call our own. We are at peace now,” Elizabeth noted. Hanse said she saved the little she could, be it N or N until she had enough to buy an erf for herself. After that she became a beneficiary of the project which has changed her life. “I am very proud to finally be a home owner and I look forward to be able to expand my house. I am very grateful that in my old age I have been able to put a roof over mine and my granddaughter’s head,” she added. Heinrich Amushila of the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia said he was very happy because they were able to build 68 houses in Rehoboth for the first time, 44 of which were built under the Buy-a-Brick banner to the tune of N.4 million raised. The remaining houses were built with the aid of the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development. He stressed that by building so many houses they also inadvertently helped people understand how the process actually works. He additionally thanks Standard Bank for its support and expressed his wish to help more people get their dream house going forward.