Friday 18 June 2021
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‘Don’t’ blame the Chinese, blame yourselves – NCCI

“We understand that the local businesses are feeling the pinch of the economic crunch but we cannot blame the Chinese businesses trading in Namibia but ourselves,” said Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry northern branch Chairperson Thomas Iindji this week while commenting on the dire financial strain northern businesses are facing.
The influx of Chinese businesses in the northern regions have brought locals to their knees, with many soon to close shop, due to the ‘unfair competition’ the foreigners have brought to the towns.
He said Namibians should point the finger to themselves as institutions created to protect local interests have failed them by not doing their job.
There are currently over 7000 Chinese businesses operating in Namibia in all sectors of the economy.
“If we complain about Chinese not paying tax, there are institutions that are created to make sure that every business pays tax. What are they doing?”
“If we are complaining about the Chinese becoming too many in the country, the foreigners come through the Namibia Investment Centre, they are being screened there.
They go to Home Affairs to get their working permits. Than they register for tax at the ministry of Finance, then go to Ministry of Labour to register again there. So there are laws in place. “It is simple, the law is not being implemented and that is why people [Chinese] are taking advantage of us. We cannot tell the institutions what to do as it is their job already. So let the Namibians at these institutions do their job,” said Iindji.
Indjii added that the NCCI has over the years received complaints about the quality of products sold by foreign businesses, a complaint which his institution has taken up with the Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and SME Development, but fell on deaf ears.
“We are advocating for the Consumer Protection Act that clearly puts the interest of local businesses at the front,” he said, adding that the introduction of the Public Private Partnership is also another alternative for local businesses in the current economic climate.
The economic condition in the country has seen a lot of businesses run on the back foot. The construction industry, which used to be a significant employer, has been the hardest hit, succumbing to retrenchments and leaving thousands unemployed. The retailing industry was not spared the downfall. However, the hospitality and tourism industry continues to rake in the incomes as tourists continue to make Namibia their preferred destination.
In these tough times, local businesses now have to compete for the little left as government remains the biggest employer.
“We are not saying the foreigners must go because you cannot build the entire country with your own people. So we need to say that certain sectors must be reserved from the locals only.”
Iindji said while business have not done well since 2016, last year the economy grew at a snail-pace although the fraternity as a whole remains timid for newcomers. He advises businessmen/women to explore other avenues as too many bloat the construction and retailing industry.
“Upcoming entrepreneurs must venture into other avenues. With these Acts and policies, we will wait for long as the bureaucracy around getting these adopted takes a long time. We cannot wait for this to happen as we can only push so far.”
The chairperson of the northern branch of NCCI added that the NCCI will be revising and recommending for the amendment of policies such that the laws benefits locals. He said they have also started looking into the Procurement Act to identify loopholes that hampers the current system.
“For us to realise Vision 2030, the industrial policies need to be enforced. Those laws need to be in place if we want to have the country going forward. Otherwise, the foreign businesses will continue taking advantage.”
“Our role as NCCI is to support the business people.
However, as Namibians, we must be the eye of other Namibians as well and not make fun when business goes wrong. We are the ones who have the government and we must put policies that protect the local people.
If we are not doing this, the Chinese will trade left and right, and we will not be able to do a thing,” he concluded.

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