A group of business people on Friday asked President Hage Geingob to declare an economic state of emergency as many businesses are under severe strain and many others have shut down while public institutions are inconsiderate and unresponsive.
The United Entrepreneurs Association of Namibia (UEAN) shared their sentiments with President Geingob, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and trade minister Lucia Iipumbu at State House.
“The Namibian economy has reached a stage of a state of emergency, and we call on the President to declare an economic state of emergency. The status quo has left frontline entrepreneurs in a deplorable situation, requiring urgent intervention. Many of our people who are employees on these jobs that we are closing down daily are dependent on these jobs for their livelihoods and survival,” stated spokesperson Agapitus Hausiku.
UEAN said the Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) has adopted the same system as commercial banks, a situation that seriously affects local entrepreneurs and a scheme that is inconveniencing businesses in various ways.
Hausiku complained that there is a sense of force from the banks which hampers business.
“DBN, which is a state-owned bank, is operating on policies that seem to enslave the previously disadvantaged enterprising entrepreneur,” he added.
The UEAN is a non-partisan organisation, established to represent the interests of all Namibian entrepreneurs, address issues affecting them and create a quality support network for business owners, who will strive to promote transformational growth through enriched platforms for all Namibians.
The ministry of labour last week said “12 238 people were retrenched by 896 employers from 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020, while 1 444 employees were retrenched by 190 employers from 1 January 2021 to 30 June 2021.”
The ministry’s acting executive director Lydia Indombo said 10 773 of the total layoffs were either due to economic reasons, or closure of businesses.
About 2 909 of the job losses were due to Covid-19- related reasons.
The association pointed out that besides the banks, other aspects such as levies, rates and taxes are directly/indirectly affecting the entrepreneurs.
Another issue raised was the issuance of good standing certificates, as blacklisted entrepreneurs are unable to secure such documentation, which further compounds their opportunities to secure jobs and extricate themselves from the problem.
Said Hausiku: “We (entrepreneurs) have been and are still directly and indirectly severely affected by the negative effects of the economic meltdown the country has been facing in recent years, and it got worse with the arrival of Covid-19.”
The group said the economic war is still to be won, as the country’s economy is largely still dominated and controlled by those who were previously advantaged.
Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said there was a specific reason why the government decided to establish a development bank, although commercial banks exist.
“We believed there are certain issues that are important for development that commercial banks may be, by their nature, not have the ability to deal with. We thus decided there should be a development bank which is not motivated by profit interest, but would optimise national interest,” she explained.
Iipumbu said based on consultations with various stakeholders, pressing matters among business owners are always concerning the banks and the procurement process.
“From the ministerial perspective, we have various programmes, like buy local, which is now mainstreaming into the aspect of ensuring local procurement. There have been directives that are given for local procurement, but there are requirements in terms of standards that need to be met,” she observed.
Iipumbu said there is the possibility that entrepreneurs may not be aware of these standards which need to be fully met for them to be absorbed and to benefit from the available services.
This process would, therefore, require more engagements, extensive consultations and deliberations.