WINDHOEK – During a post-mid-term budget breakfast yesterday Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein reiterated a comment from his mid-term budget statement that Namibia still has significant discrepancies between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’. Schlettwein remained adamant that to extricate the country from this current economic situation of inequality will require the ‘haves’ to take a share of the collective responsibility for the good of all Namibians, saying those with broad shoulders must bear the weight of those in our society who are left behind.
When pressed on this matter yesterday the finance minister explained that “the approach should not be to take from Paul to give to Peter but to rather ask Paul to create the economic opportunity for Peter”.
“When we are talking about the ‘haves’ we are not talking about individuals but instead about businesses and institutions that have the ability to help others,” Schlettwein explained. As an example, he cited the New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework (NEEEF), which he said provides an incentive package to local businesses that transact with government. This, said Schlettwein, would also promote domestic investment which has experienced a steady decline during the last decade.
Schlettwein continued that those with broad shoulders must bear the weight of those in our society who are left behind.
He added that it is unrealistic to expect that government alone can help Namibia emerge from the current economic doldrums.
“We have come from a culture where in ‘times of trouble’ the default position has been to look to the government for solutions. This culture has to change and, we would encourage mutually beneficial partnerships between the government and the private sector to build a better Namibia for all. We need your support in these testing and challenging times,” said Schlettwein.
He noted that in fiscal and economic terms Namibia is at a crossroads, and if it stays on the current path of fiscal consolidation whilst protecting the public investments in socio-economic activities, then the nation will ultimately see benefits.
“However, if we are not disciplined and consistent in our policy stance then we risk losing out on the gains we have made and will make. Ladies and gentlemen, time is not on our side and I would urge all of you to help the government to reboot the economy and do this in a spirit of openness and frankness. We need to listen to all Namibians as the solutions are not solely the prerogative of government policymakers,” Schlettwein stated.
The minister further noted that Namibia is facing serious challenges in mobilising the financial resources needed to maintain adequate and quality public services to its people.
“We have no space left for increased borrowing; due to the depressed domestic market we have limited potential for increased domestic revenues; and, with continued uncertainty over the economic situation in South Africa, we can expect SACU revenues to be volatile over the short and medium-terms.”
Commenting that the prolonged and persistent current drought has added an unwanted and unwelcome negative condition, Schlettwein cautioned that the Namibian economy will never grow in an inclusive and sustainable manner through agriculture alone.
“Real and sustainable growth will only happen if we embrace and meet the challenges presented by new technologies and innovation including disruptive innovation,” he said.
He concluded that he would be disingenuous if he promised quick fixes to the current situation. “Yes, we continue to mitigate, as best we can, the socio-economic impact of an economy afflicted by recessionary pressures. However, none of us should be in any doubt that the path to economic recovery and sustainability will be fraught with many challenges and obstacles. The task for all of us is to recognise and address these as they emerge and not wait until the pain becomes unbearable before we act.”
2019-10-24 07:42:40 | 19 days ago