Government, together with social partners and other stakeholders, should use the Covid-19 crisis as a wake-up call to strengthen its social protection systems, Swanu president Tangeni Iijambo said in parliament this week.
Iijambo made the remarks while contributing to the budget debate in the National Assembly. According to Iijambo, the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres recently warned, “Covid-19 could push millions into extreme poverty”.
Thus, he said, governments are therefore, obliged to and required to institute and provide emergency social protection mechanisms for citizens. “Revenue may for example be earmarked from natural resources to avail resources for social protection (sovereign wealth fund) which the state may draw from in time of crisis,” he told lawmakers.
Iijambo said these are unprecedented difficult times where the global economy is hard hit by the outbreak of Covid-19. “The entire world economies contracted. The outlook does not augur well for the local economy,” he said. “In Namibia, contraction will linger on beyond the fiscal year.
This financial year, Namibia experienced serious economic fallout with an estimated contraction of 6.9% to 70%. He said there is rampant formal and informal sector business closure and in some instances, complete collapse, mass lay-offs and reduced wages of up to 50%. “Exports and imports have and will continue to decline because of subdued economic conditions worldwide due to outbreak of the Covid -19 pandemic,” he said.
“The majority in the Namibian society lived in poverty over the last three decades whereby the majority of the nation go hungry and without proper roofs over their heads. Covid-19 severely increased the abject poverty, homelessness and landlessness.
The unprecedented Covid -19 pandemic disrupted the national economy.”