Budget crunch a “blessing in disguise”

The Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR), Bernhard Esau, recently called on his staff to work smart, minimise wastage and still fulfil its mandate – despite the impending budget cuts. While the current budget for 2016/2017 was cut by 10%, the budget for 2017/2018 will be further reduced by 42.3%.
Esau addressed his staff members at the National Marine Information and Research Centre (NatMIRC) in Swakopmund, where he called on all staff to do more with less. “I accept that these budget cuts will mean that several of the scheduled activities will not be undertaken because of a lack of funds,” he noted though.
The Minister promised though that despite the budget cuts service delivery will not be compromised. “The budget cuts can be considered a blessing in disguise because they are making us more sharp in getting things done with less,” he said.
During his speech he gave his staff members hints and tips on how they can save expenditure, even through small actions. “We can use our Ministry facilities for meetings instead of hired premises, use technology such a skype and emails to minimise on need for travelling, ensure paperless documentation and print only when necessary,” he said; and added: “We must also minimise on energy wastage by switching off lights and air conditioning units and closing taps.”
While speaking the Minister also warned his staff members, especially marine scientists, to conduct themselves in a professional and ethical manner and “that staff is not allowed to speak to the media.” “There is a culture of no discipline. When you speak to the media, the house becomes on fire,” he said. Only he himself as well as the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry have the mandate to speak to the media.
He furthermore warned staff, once again especially scientists that the Ministry retains all intellectual property rights of research conducted. “What you are doing is for government and you use government resources. The results are not for your neighbour. That is unethical and not professional. If we catch you, you are out,” he said.
Esau ensured that certain operations will not be negatively impacted due to the budget cuts. Research vessels will continue to operate to ensure that the mandate of the Ministry is fulfilled. “We will however revise certain aspects in the operational department. As an example we might look into the fuel price and see if we cannot get a better deal or similar,” he added.
In conclusion Esau reminded staff members that they are employed to serve the people of Namibia on all matters relating to fisheries and marine resources. “Our citizens, when they call on our offices or communicate to us must be treated with dignity and respect, because they are our ultimate employers.”

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