• September 26th, 2020

Namibia needs to focus on reversing gains wiped out by Covid-19

Some of the sectors hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic in the Namibian economy are tourism, transport and logistics as well as education, areas all of these areas will require much-needed government intervention to recover. This is according to Lameck Odada, an accounting, economics and finance lecturer at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust). 
Responding to questions from Inside Business, Odada emphasised that in recovering from Covid-19 support for small business will be crucial. He noted that government will also have to focus on intervening when it comes to retrenchments and salary cuts, as this will save some jobs and eventually reduce unemployment. 

“Covid-19 has caused major setbacks including its impact on the economy. The major problem of Covid-19 will be reversing the gains Namibia has achieved over a long time, for example, the fight against poverty and inequality. The government should reassess its priority sectors and more attention should be given to agriculture,” said Odada. 
During the recent national budget responses, finance minister Shiimi stated that key development priorities for the country lie in balancing the needs of social sector and that of the economic sector to bring about improved quality of life, economic diversification, inclusive growth and shared prosperity within an environmentally sustainable manner. 

Meanwhile, Odada feels that Namibia has done very well in terms of its social safety nets, noting that President Geingob spoke about automating processes to remove duplication and reducing transaction costs as well as phasing out the food bank to introduce a modified basic income grant. “These steps will ensure that many people are reached with these safety nets. Namibia needs to constantly monitor the progress of these safety nets especially when you look at the most vulnerable groups. Compiling such data will help in decision-making processes,” said Odada. However, Odada is concerned about corruption which he said is still dragging Namibia back. “The independent institutions, such as the Anti-Corruption Commission, the courts and the police need to be strengthened and given enough powers to investigate and punish the offenders heavily. The whistle-blower protection bill needs to be in place urgently to help curb corporate corruption,” Odada commented. 
He continued that the deplorable state of State-Owned Enterprises is another issue of concern. “The constant bailout of public enterprises will not work going into the future. All the underperforming public enterprises need a very serious business process re-engineering so that they are self-sustainable,” Odada concluded.   

During his recent State of the Nation address, President Geingob noted that while the past five years have been challenging as a result of the global economic downturn and protracted drought, the past four months have been particularly daunting. 
“All of humanity has been affected by Covid-19 and there is no doubt that survival will require a collective effort. Our lives have been disrupted and our financial security placed in jeopardy, with uncertainty and anxiety looming large,” said Geingob. 
Geingob added that despite the inroads Namibia has made, there are limits to what fiscal policy alone can achieve in eradicating poverty and inequality in Namibia. 
“The impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic have the potential to reverse some of the gains made in our war against poverty,” said Geingob. 
– ebrandt@nepc.com.na

Edgar Brandt
2020-06-10 09:41:07 | 3 months ago

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