WINDHOEK – The Trade Union Congress of Namibia (Tucna) has voiced its disappointment in the 2019/20 national budget, particularly the government wage bill. According to Tucna’s Secretary General, Mahongora Kavihuha: “The crux of our argument is that for the minister to pass a budget that is progressive, it must still focus on leading the economy out of its current stagnation through increased wages for employees of the civil service.”
At a media briefing in Windhoek, Kavihuha bemoaned that the government is not taking the the lead through wage-led economic growth and which, he said, should it happen the private sector will follow by granting salary increments as well.
Kavihuha claimed that in his budget speech Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein not only failed, neglected or refused to heed their call but blatantly refused as much as mentioning the words ‘salary increments for civil servants’, either in a positive or even a negative sense. “It means he did not give it a thought, one way or the other,” Kavihuha lambasted.
“How different is this from the millions if not billions spent on mass-housing projects, the Neckartal Dam and countless other grand schemes that have resulted in naught?” the secretary general said angrily. He added that Schlettwein maybe intended well but wondered if his intentions were well thought through.
Kavihuha further questioned if Namibia actually achieved overall economic growth of 18 percent since Independence 29 years ago. “Those of you who may have experienced it, what is its outward manifestation currently? How is it possible that we have experienced such high (18 percent) economic growth in the span of at least 29 years of independence?”
The union leader revealed they will conduct mass meetings in the Khomas Region next week and will continue with all the regions until they have covered the entire country.
“The mass meetings will seek to address and gain consensus on the classification of compensation for work rendered as wasteful expenditure. Here we have in mind subsistence and travel allowances and their termination unilaterally by government,” said Kavihuha.
He further stated that even though there is a slight reduction in the unemployment rate with 0.6 percent, the union has serious reservations regarding the reduction as supported by the latest results of the Labour Force Survey.
Kavihuha noted that the preliminary national accounts, released on the same day by the 2018 Labour Force Survey, clearly show that both secondary and tertiary industries recorded declining growth rates as opposed to the primary industries which show robust performance with improvement of 22 percent compared to the slow growth of 13 percent in 2017. Kavihuha said that the analysis shows that there is a lot to be explained.
“The national accounts show an unequivocal report that the primary sector and water and electricity in the secondary sector performed better; however the employment performance contracted,” he said, adding that hotels and restaurants and education show contradictions.