Windhoek - The High-Level Panel on the Namibian Economy (HLPNE) has said that it is confident that the recommendations they have made to cabinet will help revive Namibia’s economy, which has been struggling for growth.
The panel, was formed last year after the country’s economy failed to grow in 10 consecutive quarters subsequently entering into a recession.
The panel submitted a range of short-term recommendations that cabinet still has to scrutinise for implementation process.
The panel has, however, admitted it has no contingency strategy to these short-term plans but said it is confident that should the appointing authority implement the recommendations, the economy will see a change in fortunes.
Responding to The Southern Times’ questions on whether this was the last throw of the dice to revive Namibia’s economy, chairperson of the HLPNE, Johannes !Gawaxab, said: “Well it’s a very hypothetical question that you are asking. The economy is not stagnant it is evolving, it’s an unfolding discipline that we have got and its subject to so many variables some internal, some external factors so it can never be the last throw of the dice. Is it the last throw of the dice in terms of dealing with the short-term challenges that the country is facing? Yes, it could be. I would like to believe that if we do those things and implement those recommendations we will see that the economy is turning but it can never be the last throw of the dice, we always have internal and external issues that impact the economy but not limited to Namibia only.”
Amongst the recommendations under employment creation, the panel has recommended government to introduce the national internship programme, invest in poultry, charcoal and livestock feed; and enable participation and employment of more people in private sector.
“If we don’t implement what we are recommending, we will have a less competitive economy, much higher unemployment rate we have got currently, the currency will weaken further, and inequality will be much higher in the short term. But I don’t think the appointing authority would appoint us and just ignore the recommendations of the panel,” said !Gawaxab.
Meanwhile, Ingenesia Zaamwani-Kamwi, private sector interface constitutional affairs advisor to the President, said on behalf of the appointing authority, they were committed to implementing fully the panel’s recommendations.
“Of course, cabinet will deliberate and we will come up with a plan in terms of prioritising, which recommendations must be implemented and by which entity but these recommendations are part of a broader macro-economic environment and there are also other initiatives happening within government and the private sector. Collectively, all efforts being driven by various stakeholders we are hoping that they would help us move into the right direction of reviving our economy,” she said.
Asked if the public can hold accountable the panel if no change is seen, !Gawaxab said: “I am not so sure if your question really holds. What we are trying to do is revive and grow the economy. Economics 101 would tell you the following; if you need to revive and grow any economy you do certain things; you look at investments, exports. If we attract investments, the economy will grow.”
In order to revive the economy the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has previously urged government to combine spending reductions and selected revenue increases that can enhance the long-term growth prospects of the economy, while protecting the poor.
Measures should include continuing the authorities’ policy of containing salary indexation and new hires, applying the policy to all public entities; rationalising transfers to public entities and enterprises; and expanding tax bases by reducing exemptions and special tax regimes.
“Over time, these policies would help bring wage dynamics closer to the productivity trends, improve service delivery, and create a level-playing field for private investors, with positive effects on external competitiveness and long-term growth,” the report urged.
Furthermore, the IMF said widening the coverage of children’s grants, better targeting of housing programmes, and a more progressive personal income tax would help protect the poor and strengthen the distributive role of fiscal policies. In this context, the IMF says the Bank of Namibia should keep the policy rate broadly in line with the South Africa’s Reserve Bank rate and maintain the peg.