The government will spend around N$530 million on police officers protecting top officials this financial year.
This is an increase of N$175 million from the N$355 million splashed out on guarding “very important people” in 2014.
Safety and security minister Charles Namoloh announced this year’s allocation during his N$5,5 billion ministerial budget statement tabled in parliament last week.
He said the primary purpose of the N$530 million budget “is to render protection to national and visiting very important persons, and at the same time provide security at places of their interest, including at diplomatic missions in Namibia, at their offices, and residences.”
According to Namoloh, that amount also includes N$100 million to recruit 710 new members of the police force this year.
The latest allocation for VIP protection is an increase from the N$432 million allocated in 2016.
Namoloh told The Namibian that this year’s VIP protection budget includes personnel costs, the training of police officers, and the acquisition of vehicles.
This is despite the fact that another N$84 million has been budgeted for training and development.
Namoloh’s statement shows that N$3,7 billion was allocated for combating crime, while N$800 million is for correctional facilities, and around N$280 million for coordination and support services.
The minister, however, complained that the N$485 million development budget is not enough because several infrastructure projects have been shelved, such as the construction of police offices and staff accommodation.
“Police officers are currently sleeping in shacks because there is no money to build decent houses for them. Some live in overcrowded and dilapidated places. They are working under difficult conditions,” the minister said.
Another budget allocation that raised eyebrows is that of the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), which was tabled in parliament by information minister Stanley Simataa on Friday. The minister said the NBC will receive N$140 million this year.
“It should be stated that the NBC is currently not funded at the optimum level that would allow the corporation to carry out its mandate,” he noted.
Simataa added that “the NBC does not operate entirely as a commercial entity, and going forward, will always rely on the state for funding. This is the trend for all public broadcasters”.
The minister said the government would pump N$10 million into the state-owned New Era newspaper, while N$15 million is set to be injected into the Namibia Press Agency.
Around N$5 million is allocated to NamZim, the publisher of The Southern Times, and N$3,6 million has been allocated to the Namibia Film Commission.
Simataa said this latter amount “is grossly inadequate to enable them to roll out local film content development”.