By Staff Reporter
Official opposition party president McHenry Venaani last week tore into the mid-term budget saying the finance minister was succeeding at consolidating the budget but has kept his fingers from pressing the off-button on government expenditure on flashy vehicles.
Venaani trashed the mid-term budget as failing to rescue the economy from dire straits, a few minutes after its being presented by finance minister Calle Schlettwein this week.
The minister presented his budget to a less-enthusiastic August House announcing that N$1.18 billion savings had been realised, some of which would relieve the financially overwhelmed public broadcaster and some for the Electoral Commission of Namibia.
“Government has walked the talk in terms of austerity measures, yet the motorcades are still the same. There are three members of parliament that went abroad for the past weeks and they have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars.
So the minister has played with figures so it’s just the realigning of figures. What is important and fundamental is what are we spending in defence? Defence is a very important sector in our country but should we spend 4.4% of our GDP on defence? PDM and Venaani think otherwise,” he said.
Breaking down the N$1.18 billion
Out of the N$1.18 billion freed-up funds an amount of N$999.6 billion, equivalent to 85.0 percent of the total freed-up fund are to be suspended from the Development Budget.
The Operational Budget is increased by a similar amount of N$999,6 million from N$52.24 billion to N$53.24 billion.
The proposed internal reallocation to funding needs and priorities, including internal reallocations are allocated as follows:-
An amount of N$96.65 million is allocated to the Ministry of Agriculture Water and Forestry for personnel expenditure, utilities and dry-land crop production.
An amount of N$ 67.33 million is allocated the Drought Relief Programme under the Office of the Prime Minister.
A total of N$88 million is allocated to the Orphans and Vulnerable Children programme under the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare to cater for expanded coverage.
N$36 million is allocated to the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration for the Visa Stickers project.
N$184.1 million is allocated to the Ministry of Education, Arts & Culture for the recruitment of Teachers, Text book and School feeding Programme.
Health and Social Services received N$210.72 million for pharmaceuticals and clinical suppliers as well as recruitment of Health Professionals.
A total of N$88.02 million is allocated to the Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare for Social Grants.
Meanwhile Venaani said Schlettwein has this week confirmed what the opposition has been affirming, that the economy is in the doldrums.
However, ever optimistic, Schlettwein stamped that domestic economy remained resilient.
On the ground, the economy has been decimated by quarterly subnormal growth, a negative rating with the deficit widening to alarming levels.
For Venaani, “the fundamentals of our economy have to change so we can see an economy that is going to grow.”
“There are a number of sectors that have gone on their knees, that have not recovered. One of them is the construction sector which is really hurting the country, secondly compounded with the global economic outlook that is very poor.
But looking at our own economic vitality, our economy is not pushing. We are seeing other countries that are being affected by the global economic outlook such as Mauritius, but Mauritius is seeing 7% to 8% growth.
I would like to credit the minister for having saved a billion. But that one billion is a saving and it is not substantial because if you look at our deficit as opposed to the savings, that savings is nothing,” he said.
Venaani added, “We are seeing commodity driven economies, Ghana this year is expected to grow at 9%. It is a number of factors that comes into play, one of the issues that we need to address in terms of the fundamentals of our economy is our taxation.”
In the meantime, amendments to the Income Tax Act, Value Added Tax Act and Export Levy Act are proposed to implement the proposals completed during the consultation process.
The finance minister said these entail, among others, the taxation of trusts and certain commercial entities, eliminating base eroding tax holidays and preferential tax rates accorded only to some manufacturers and exporters of manufactured goods for a more uniform treatment of taxpayers through the establishment of the Special Economic Zone.