By Megameno Shikwambi
Government has taken a position, in its economic growth summit that the New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework (NEEEF) will only apply to companies doing business with government.
This decision was taken in light of recommendations made by the High Level panel on the Namibian economy launched by President Geingob in April this year.
Appointed as part of Geingob’s promise last year to set up a presidential economic advisory body, this panel today delivered the first of many milestones in the form of a successfully concluded business summit.
As part of the public sector commitments, government committed to the urgent finalization of the NEEEB promising that the bill will be tables within 2019 in Parliament.
During the closing session of the summit, investments were committed to in excess of N$ 50 billion. Over 700 business people, both local and international attended the summit.
Cabinet acknowledged that certain provisions therein, as well as prolonged consultations on the Bill has created uncertainty for the private sector and prospective investors into the Namibian economy.
“With respect to the ownership pillar: The compulsory 25 percent equity has been removed.
However, all Pillars will remain and be taken into account for enterprises doing business with Government and applying for natural resources licensing.
This further clarify; an enterprise wanting to do business with Government will be expected to comply with all the Empowerment Pillars espoused in NEEEF. Evaluation of whether or not an enterprise complies, will be guided by a weighted scorecard,” read a policy pronouncement document issued soon after the summit.
Amendments were also made to the Namibia Investment Promotion Act (NIPA).
The Gawaxab led team on the Namibian Economy (HLPNE) recommended to Government to clarify the status of the revised Act and share the substantive changes that have been effected to the Act during the Summit.
The summit has indicated that the Act has been put on hold to accommodate broader inputs by the private sector.
“Amendments were effected to address specific concerns raised, such as: The Act was perceived to grant the Minister a lot of discretionary power; Approval of investments was initially meant to be only for large scale projects, however ended up being applicable to even small scale projects.
Owing to these shortcomings and others, the Act was perceived to be cumbersome and too bureaucratic; defeating its intended purpose as an instrument to promote investment,” the policy pronouncement document further reads.
On top of that the Panel further recommended to Government to expedite finalisation of the revised Namibia Investment Promotion Act and table the Act before Parliament during 2019.
“Government has finalized revisions and the Bill will be tabled to the Cabinet Committee on Legislation and thereafter Cabinet before proceeding to Parliament.
The Act could be operational by end of this Financial Year,” said the panel.
Meanwhile on the Public Procurement Act, 2015 the panel recommended that there is need to split the roles between the Accounting Officer’s function and that of the Chairperson, “to safeguard against conflict of interest and ensure adherence to corporate governance principles.”
The Government further took note of the High Level Panel’s recommendation to “simplify bidding documents to prevent lengthy procurement process and enable local businesses to participate; Implement Section 69 of the Act: “The Minister may grant preferential treatment in procurement in pursuance of the developmental and empowerment policies of the Government”.
In response, Government agreed with the principles and will review and amend where necessary.
The panel made a specific recommendation as far as the adjustment of pricing is concerned, claiming that there is a need to adjust prices.
Government remained unmoved citing the risk that fluctuations will expose to the fiscus.
On Visa regulations the panel indicated that the current Visa requirements can deprive Namibia from tourist spending, Foreign Direct Investment and new business opportunities.
“The HLPNE (panel) recommends the introduction of a e-Visa or visa at entry point at a low nominal fee, provision of easy access for work visa for highly skilled professional and sort after skills, and provision of easy access for residence visa for foreign pensioners.
Cabinet has so far directed the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration to introduce the e-visa or visa at entry point at a nominal fee; provision of easy access for work visa for highly-skilled professionals and potential investors; provision of easy access for residence visa for foreign pensioners; and offering residence visas on the back of capital investment with a to-be-defined threshold; and business people with already established businesses in Namibia should be given multiple entry visa valid for five years.
In discussing the issue as far as a national brand development strategy, the high level panel recommended the establishment of a strong Namibian brand. It was agreed that Cabinet would adopt this, in an attempt to attract potential investors.
Although bush based animal feed is not yet commercialised because it does not meet the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry’s criteria for registration, Cabinet directed the ministry to ensure that it should be registered as emergency and supplementary animal feed and adopted as a commercial product to enhance further research and production by potential investors.