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The challenge is to balance fiscal capacity with tough political decisions

2019-04-02  Staff Reporter

The challenge is to balance fiscal capacity with tough political decisions

WINDHOEK – Shortly after the budget was tabled last week, Nedbank Namibia in partnership with Simonis Storm, hosted an in-depth review discussion of the National Budget. The panel discussion, which aired live on the Nedbank Facebook page and was moderated by Simonis Storm Managing Director, Bruce Hansen, included the Head of Nedbank Corporate and Investment Banking, Dr Edward Turner; Head of Nedbank Business Banking, Britt du Plessis; Simonis Storm Head of Research, Megameno Shetunyena and Simonis Storm Economist Indileni Nanghonga.

“The greatest challenge is to balance a limited fiscal capacity with the need to make politically tough decisions,” commented Bruce Hansen on the challenges of the National Budget. The discussion aimed to give an overview of the budget and identify potential outcomes of the minister’s budget speech, as well as determine what these outcomes signal about the economic road ahead.  

A number of items raised in the National Budget were unpacked at the discussion, one issue highlighted was its effect to the man on the street. Commenting on this, Nedbank’s Britt du Plessis said, “It is commendable to see that the budget is focused on the individual in these economic times, by keeping the income tax rate unchanged.”

Simonis Storm Economist Indileni Nanghonga said that even though the income tax rate has not increased, the increase of the Fuel Levy and Sin Tax could ultimately burden the consumer, “Consumers are currently under distress, and it seems like increasing the Fuel Levy and Sin Tax are easy to implement without necessary getting public rejections. However, what we need to look at is, what the real effects of those increases are on the household. Increasing the Fuel Levy last year led to taxi drivers demanding an increase in taxi fare, which resulted in the burden being carried by the consumer.” 

Furthermore, Turner pointed out, “Keeping in mind that businesses are under immense pressure, there are not many initiatives in the budget aimed at tackling the tough situation. However, the Whistle Blowers Act will be implemented, which should help with the prevention of corruption and that could have a positive effect on foreign direct investment.”

Adding to this point Megameno Shetunyena said, “The business investor community is looking for certainty around policy. Further delays in specific policies will determine if investors will deploy their capital in Namibia or not. We need certainty around tax amendments.”

In conclusion, the panel agreed that minister Schlettwein presented a fair and neutral budget but the real test remains in its implementation. “The budget’s purpose to make more income available to improve our lives. However, we operate honestly, diligently, with the common good as our only objective in mind. This forum will keep monitoring the budget implementation and provide regular feedback,” concluded Bruce Hansen.
To date, the Nedbank’s live budget review video received 13 552 views. 

2019-04-02  Staff Reporter

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