Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said the outbreak of Covid-19 has come as an opportunity for businesses in the country to come up with new ideas.
The PM said this is despite the negative impact the pandemic had on the domestic, regional and global economies.
Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said in efforts to revive the economy, part of the government response package aims to encourage the private sector to come on board and support the recovery process.
She stated that Namibia experienced a drastic shortage of some important basic products during the state of emergency – either due to restrictions of movement in countries where some of these goods are sourced or because of a shortage of supply in those countries.
She noted this effect exposed the vulnerability of the domestic economy to imports and said she hopes this has highlighted the areas where opportunities exist for Namibian businesses to invest in the local products scheme to produce, using finance facilities availed through the Development Bank of Namibia (DBN).
She also encouraged local manufacturers to take advantage of the preferential local sourcing arrangement under the Government’s Public Procurement Act.
The PM further noted that government provided specific support, specifically through the Social Security Commission, to businesses to help them cope with the impact of Covid-19.
However, she added that some of the businesses and individuals could not benefit from the programme because they were not registered with the Commission.
“There are some people who think that it is a burden to comply with the requirement of registering, but I think the pandemic has highlighted the importance of all the eligible people to register. Maybe in the future, we can come up with a facility that provides better support to businesses and those that will be laid off as the result of shocks to the economy of the kind that we have experienced with the pandemic,” stated Kuugongelwa-Amadhila.
She further emphasised that there is a significant role to be played by the private sector in helping to bring about the recovery in the economy.
Meanwhile, finance minister, Iipumbu Shiimi, said the revival of the economy depends on how well the world controls the pandemic and confirmed that the pandemic has severely constrained economic activities in the country.
“When it stabilises, you will see economic activities picking up and therefore it is not up to the government, but it is also up to the whole nation to contribute to help curb the impact of the pandemic by complying with health protocols and by behaving in a way that ensures social distancing. That will help the economy to recover indirectly,” he urged.
Furthermore, Shiimi revealed that the ministry has already paid out N$3.2 billion in Value-Added Tax (VAT) claims that were outstanding as at March 2020.
He concluded that the ministry looks forward to fast-track the VAT payment for businesses and going forward the finance ministry is urgently looking for better ways for such payments to be accessed and paid out quicker.