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Opinion - HPP II: Towards an economic recovery plan

2021-03-18  Staff Reporter

Opinion - HPP II: Towards an economic recovery plan
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Nathalia Goagoses 


The pillars of the Harambee Prosperity Plan namely, Effective Governance, Economic Advancement, Social Progression, Infrastructure Development, and International Relations and Cooperation have given us a clear and concise context of development and growth priorities that we have as a caring government.

Each pillar intends to facilitate transformation and growth in different sectors of society. The past five years have seen the Namibian economy endure its most challenging growth period possibly post-independence. 

We learn from the World Bank Economic Overview (2020) that undermined direct investment, slumping commodities and a heavyweight blow by Covid-19 didn’t leave the scenario much encouraging. 

We further learn from the Namibia Economic Outlook Report from the African Development Bank (2020) that the Namibian economy has also experienced significant employment reduction or redundancy effects across various sectors. 

The current scenarios and projected scenario impact on health, critical economic variables, the livelihood of the Namibian people, and the low base from which to build the economy paint a picture that will require radically different and deep structural measures to mitigate against the impact of the Covid-19 crisis.

An element we are confident will be brought by the Harambee Prosperity Plan II. Under the pillar of social progression, the current conjuncture presents a much-needed opening and low-hanging fruit to restructure the economy. 

It is an opportunity to build a new, inclusive economy that benefits all Namibians. 

This is a moment for a perpetual and decisive break with that past of low and declining growth, fall, low investment, as well as high and deeply entrenched levels of inequality, poverty, and unemployment. 

Furthermore, this is a definitive moment not only to address the weaknesses of the pre-Covid-19 Namibian economy but also, and more importantly to create an amicable environment supportive to sustained and accelerated economic recovery. 

The pillar of Economic Advancement argues that SOEs play a great deal in the Namibian economy in the space of employment and service delivery. 

However, SOEs have of late been a burden to the government’s coffers. A new, immersive and decisive strategy will be brought forth for struggling SOEs. 

Bail-outs cannot be the order of the day. It is important to note that the decisions that lie ahead will be extremely difficult but must be made to turn things around. This will ensure more accountability and better oversight on the work and mandate of SOEs. 

A response to the economic impact of Covid-19 calls for interventions that also address the structural problems that plagued the Namibian economy before the impact of the coronavirus.

 This means hewing interventions that bring about a result that decisively deals with the impact of the coronavirus on the Namibian economy and the last standing structural challenges that have been inhibiting the type of inroads that we needed to have made as an economy and a people. 

Furthermore, the plan must set deliverables that can be used to measure its implementation and understand whether it is serving its purpose. 

The role of institutions towards this plan also plays a key role. This cannot be an abstract plan but must be a plan that deploys responsibility to state and private institutions towards its achievement and materialisation. 

The issue of effective governance tells us that the mandate of short, medium, and long-term interventions are required to strengthen key sectors of the economy will also need to be made. 

The collective impact of these sectoral interventions is intended to bring Namibia back on course towards the targets set in the NDPs and Vision 2030. 

In providing more context for the economic recovery plan, infrastructure investment, delivery, and maintenance will play a leading role in restructuring our economy. 

A large and meaningful infrastructure program will boost aggregate demand, assist in reviving the construction industry and contribute to employment creation. 

The construction industry has for long been taking a firm beating from economic decline. 

We appreciate the intentional and deliberate efforts to bolster up and provide much need capital to SMEs through the Development Bank of Namibia skills-based scheme and women and youth scheme of Agribank. 

Both play a critical role in our realignment and restructuring of our economy.  

On Infrastructure development, we call on efforts to be strengthened to attract private sector investment in the delivery of infrastructure as part of building a more meaningful Public, Private Partnerships (PPP) framework. 

We further call for attention to be paid towards improving the state’s technical, project planning, preparation, and financial engineering capabilities. 

This includes roping-in graduates, sector skills, and expertise. 

We expect non-compromising deliverables such as localized procurement of key inputs to strengthen and capacitate the domestic industrial base. 

Furthermore, programmes such as `Buy Local, Grow Namibia` must be embraced and intensified. 

Local manufacturers and producers need support from all of us for them to yield returns, contribute to economic growth, job creation but most importantly, value addition. 

This will craft the much-needed industry growth facilitation for SMEs. The above analysis is intended to facilitate the much-needed social progression and economic advancement. 

A point in case, we have a growing leather works market that should be made use of in the creation of school shoes. Nothing should stop us from looking at the necessary procurement procedures to ensure local leather manufacturers benefit.

 This is what we mean by intended local economic development strategies. This greatly adds to our strategy of adding value. Another important factor that plays into the notion of economic recovery is a well-coordinated and organised education curriculum accompanied by an energetic and well-qualified sector. 

This must be the scenario from primary right up to tertiary. There remains growing concerns about our educational output, especially with the new curriculum.  

In my final analysis, it is important to note that this economic recovery plan will remain a plan if we all, in our respective trades and capacities do not identify what role we have in its implementation. Whether it’s to create literacy, break it down in S.M.A.R.T deliverables, or focus on industry growth facilitation. 

We all have a role to play.

2021-03-18  Staff Reporter

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