The Minister of Economic Planning and Director General Tom Alweendo maintains that the Targeted Intervention Programme for Employment and Economic Growth (TIPEEG) programme implemented by Government between 2011 and 2014 was no cashcow and that it has not failed as believed by many.
Alweendo said this during an exclusive interview with The Patriot this week where he also indicated that he has no regrets about TIPEEG and the only thing that Government could have done differently when the programme was introduced was to explain it better to the public.
TIPEEG is considered by many as a “fly-by spending spree” undertaken by Government to create overnight millionaires.
It came into being in 2011 as a measure to curb unemployment in the country, and to ultimately address poverty.
The three-year programme was an attempt to arrest the persistent unemployment rate of 51.2 per cent officially released by the Ministry of Labour in 2008, as well as to address social and economic imbalances in the economy.
A total of N$14.1 billion was allocated towards implementing that programme.
Alweendo seemingly still has nightmares over the bad reputation that engulfed TIPEEG because it was labelled as a corrupt programme in which only the well-connected received state contracts.
“Spending spree…I do not know why there is always a misunderstanding when it comes to TIPEEG. It was not an independent programme, we needed a stimulus to boost economic growth in the country. Some people thought money was given to NPC and money was squandered, but in reality TIPEEG was implemented through the ministries,” he said.
“Our economy grew because of TIPEEG and as a result the construction sector carried the economy for some years after TIPEEG. We built more infrastructure.”
Asked whether the programme was sustainable, Alweendo remains adamant that it was.
“Yes it was,” he responded confidently, “because our economy grew and our construction industry carried us through.”
The construction industry is currently facing tough times due to the country’s unpleasant economic climate, to a certain extent validating claims made by TIPEEG critics a few years back that the growth within the construction industry during the TIPEEG period was artificial.
Responding to this, Alweendo said: “What if TIPEEG was not there….TIPEEG carried the construction industry and it benefited the country. People think TIPEEG was a separate programme but it was not the case. It was a programme implemented at the time because NDP4 was not launched yet, but still, it was a government programme like any other.”
Asked what he regretted most about TIPEEG, he said: “Nothing. What really concerns me is the fact that there is always negative connotations towards TIPEEG, maybe it is a Namibian thing. But when people heard of TIPEEG everyone wanted their own company specifically for TIPEEG. They even stopped saying they got Government tenders and referred to it as TIPEEG tenders.
“People still think it was a corrupt scheme but there was nothing corrupt about it. The connotation that money was eaten and the programme was not well planned are not true. I regret nothing about it, I just regret the tag given to TIPEEG and the fact that corruption and nepotism insinuations continue to be mentioned when people talk of TIPEEG,” said the former central bank governor.
According to Alweendo: “People are saying there was corruption in TIPEEG but no one is coming forward with concrete information to pin point the alleged irregularities that took place. The only thing I regret about TIPEEG, is the fact that we could have explained it better to the public when it was launched, maybe it would have eliminated any doubts or negative perceptions about the programme.”
Full interview on page 5