National Unity Democratic Organisation (NUDO) parliamentarian Utjiua Muinjangue has expressed concern over the country’s ballooning debt, saying borrowed funds are for consumption and debt servicing – and not for productive means.
The country’s domestic debt to GDP is expected to increase to 77% at the end of the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), mainly owing to the high debt servicing costs of N$7.7 billion, which equates to 14% of revenue.
While motivating the budget, tabled by finance minister Iipumbu Shiimi, Muinjangue on Tuesday said the future generation should not be burdened by the sin of their parents.
“As government, we should, by all means, avoid a situation where our children’s children would have to pay for our current consumption without anything to show for,” she said. “The IMF loan is the big elephant in the room. Are we slowly drifting in the throes of a deadly debt trap? Hon. Speaker, Hon. Minister, Hon. Members, we must tread carefully, or otherwise what has befallen many will be upon this nation sooner or later.”
Muinjangue further commended Shiimi for removing value-added tax (VAT) on sanitary pads, saying that from the gender perspective, this is a positive move.
“In fact, I’m looking forward that when the House starts debating and discussing the various votes, it will become clearer how patterns of allocations to various schemes or projects will directly or indirectly benefit women and girls.”
Furthermore, Muinjangue, who is also the deputy minister of health, welcomed the increase in taxes on cigarettes and alcohol as announced by Shiimi, saying from a public health point of view, the increase will hopefully lead to less abuse of the substance.
She further advised the finance ministry to, in future, involve MPs in the process of assisting the finance minister to draft the budget before it is tabled in Parliament.
Muinjangue said this will allow various stakeholders to have input and will also make all MPs own the budget and not see it as Shiimi’s budget.
“I understand the process is on to have a budget committee, although I’m not exactly in the know about the terms of reference of the budget committee.”
She also advised the finance minister to present the budget well in advance – before the new fiscal year – to allow the National Assembly to have enough time to debate.
“This is an international trend; countries such as France and Germany, present their budgets some two to four months before the start of the new fiscal year. The main objective is to allow the National Assembly to have enough time to scrutinise, debate and propose alternative in advance.”