Thursday 26 April 2018

Politicians' salaries hiked in 2016

Politicians' salaries hiked in 2016
(The Namibian 03/14/17)

Politicians received a 6% salary increase in April last year, and not last week, as reported yesterday.
The Namibian reported that President Hage Geingob had approved the salary increases for political office-bearers, including himself, effective this month.

A government gazette filed at the justice ministry, however, shows that the President gave the green light for the wage increases last year, effective 1 April 2016. The proclamation was signed by Geingob on 11 April 2016.

The President's decision followed a 2015 Public Office-Bearers Remuneration and Benefits Commission (POBC) recommendation to increase the pay and perks of politicians by 6%.

The POBC has over the years refused to be transparent about how much politicians earn. A similar body in South Africa is more transparent, and publishes detailed reports on its website.

The 6% increase approved last year was never reported in the media, even though it was gazetted in April last year.

What is new about the latest proclamation is that for the first time, government is open about the exact amounts the President, vice president and former Presidents earn. This was never done before Geingob took office as President.

Previously, government would make proclamations at the justice ministry, announcing that the President will earn a certain percentage more than the Prime Minister. It was up to the media or the public to calculate how much the President was earning.

The Namibian reported last year that Geingob had decided to release the figures of how much he earned in a bid to be more transparent.

Even though such an act of transparency is laudable, like his assets declaration was in 2015, the President is still not legally bound to reveal his official income.

The revealing of politicians' salaries will still be at the discretion of the President, unless Geingob pushes for changes to the law to give the POBC power to release salary details of politicians every year. Judge President Petrus Damaseb, who chairs the POBC, told The Namibian last year that the body did not have the legal means to release salary details of politicians. They could only do so with permission from the President.

Former President Hifikepunye Pohamba made history in 2012 when he decided to release a detailed report on how much politicians were paid. However, that report did not include details on how much he and founding President Sam Nujoma were earning.

According to the gazette, the President earns over N$1,7 million per year (more than N$141 600 per month).

Former President Pohamba earns N$1,1 million, while Namibia's first President Sam Nujoma earns N$1,3 million.

by Shinovene Immanuel

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