WINDHOEK – The Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare has proposed a N$380 basic income grant for unemployed people between the ages of 30 to 59.
The ministry wants to make the child grant and maternity grant universal, meaning that it will be for everyone who applies for it. The ministry also wants to strengthen these grants by making them universal and adequate. For maternity grant, the ministry proposes a once off N$2000 payment.
Minister of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare Zephania Kameeta shared these proposals while speaking at a review of the draft National Social Protection Policy for Namibia 2019-2024. The ministry invited social protection experts to analyse the draft policy document before they host a validation workshop and thereafter submit to Cabinet for approval.
Kameeta said the universal maternity grant is meant to cover the unemployed, self-employed and vulnerable women that are pregnant and lactating.
He stated the challenge that they are facing as the ministry is that the new policy is bound to double the public spending on social welfare services from the current N$5 billion to N$10 billion at a time when the fiscus is under pressure due to unfavourable economic conditions. “This brings the issues of affordability and sustainability into focus as we debate the policy,” he remarked.
In the regard, Kameeta said it is anticipated that views of social protection experts are needed to analyse the draft policy and provide them with valid inputs to enable them to produce a very good quality document that will ensure the whole Namibian population enjoys access to comprehensive social safety nets.
The ministry’s Executive Director Esther Lusepani explained to New Era that the estimate right now for basic income grant in the policy is N$380 per month for unemployed people. Lusepani said the proposal will still be improved because they are working with UNDP just to check what amount will be reasonable as the poverty line is around N$500 in the country. Currently, the unemployment rate stands at 33.40 percent.
“We are seeing unemployment is very rampant and when people do not have [anything] it is difficult because they need an injection to help them,” she stated.
On child grant, Lusepani said currently, a parent needs to prove that they earn less than a N$1000 per month or that the child is an orphan.
“What we are saying is that if you are a Namibian child you should apply to automatically get child grant if you have a birth certificate and you are below 18-years,” she stated.
She said this grant will be for all children in Namibia. Lusepani further said even children of employed parents will benefit if they go and apply.
“It is not automatic, if you have a birth certificate you should go and apply. If you don’t want it, you should not apply,” she explained.
Currently, the ministry gives N$250 child grant and Lusepani said the amount has remained the same for about 15 years and they have noticed the value has depreciated a lot and that is what they meant by strengthening it.
“We were suggesting that in the next three years, we should increase it by 10 percent because it has been a stagnant for a long time. But it is pretty expensive to do that because we are (currently) paying N$900 million for child [welfare],” she noted
On maternity grant, Lusepani said they are worried about child stunting, especially for women who are unemployed.
She said women who sell kapana, fatcakes and similar business activities suffer when they go on maternity leave, as they are not covered unless they register for social security.
“We want (maternity grant) generally for women who are not employed. It is estimated we have 70 000 babies born per annum. We want those women for the three months to get a once off N$2000 just to assist them because they are not doing their usual work,” Lusepani remarked.