Economic recovery plan gets thumbs up

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Timo Shihepo

Windhoek – Namibia’s government has endorsed a recovery plan crafted by the High-Level Panel on Economy, which – among other things – seeks to attract investment for energy, water and sanitation, housing, healthcare and employment creation.

Chaired by Johannes !Gawaxab, who is now the Bank of Namibia Governor, the panel submitted two sets of recommendations to government in June 2019 and February 2020. Its lifespan expired in March this year, and this week cabinet endorsed its recommendations.

Cabinet Secretary George Simataa said implementation would begin post haste.

“This week, I have written to all executive directors in the ministries to start implementing the recommendations of the High-Level Panel on Economy as endorsed by cabinet,” he said.

The recommendations cover a raft of areas from policy and regulatory reforms and sector-specific interventions designed to promote Namibia as an attractive investment and tourist destination.

President Hage Geingob appointed the 22-member panel after Namibia’s economy went on a downward trajectory around 2016 following 15 years of steady growth.

Government expenditure ballooned between 2009 and 2016, and the wage bill grew by 219 percent between 2009 and 2018. During the same period, public debt increased from R12 billion to R75 billion (about US$731 million to US$4,5 billion).

President Geingob tasked the panel to review programmes and interventions that would enhance employment creation, inclusive growth and shared prosperity.

The panel advised government to come up with a national strategy on water self-sufficiency and to invest in a desalination plant this year. It also said greater investment was required in energy, housing, sanitation, education, healthcare, agriculture and charcoal production; in addition to creation of a national internship programme.

The panel called for public sector and tax reforms and sustainable leveraging of public assets.

Underpinning all this would be attracting domestic and foreign investment to the tune of R40 billion (approximately US$ 2,5 billion) in 2020.

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