Namibia’s growth targets too ambitious

 

Windhoek – The Permanent Secretary of the National Planning Commission (NPC), Andries Leevi Hungamo made this revelation last week during an induction training programme for new members of the National Assembly (NA), where he presented statistics and projections of the economy.

He said that during 2012/2013 fiscal year, the Namibian economy performed very well growing by 5.1 percent, which was well beyond the set target of 4.6 percent.

But after that, economic growth started to steadily lag behind, where in the 2013/2014 financial year, the economy fell off the target with a percentage growth of 5.1 percent, while the mark was set at 6.1 percent.

Similarly, the 2014/2015, economic growth was envisaged to grow by 6.4 percent, but actual growth was recorded at 5 percent.

The same trend is most likely to continue in the 2015/2016 and the 2016/2017 fiscal years, with projections of 6.3 percent and 6.5 percent growth unlikely to be met, as it is expected that the economy would only grow by a mere 4.8 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively.

The NDP4 is one of a series of seven medium development plans towards Vision 2030, which aspires to build a prosperous and industrialised Namibia by the year 2030 and at which time the economy is expected to have grown by 9 percent.

Apart from economic growth being one of the overarching national development goals, employment creation and improved income equality are the other corner stones of NDP4. With the alarming high unemployment rate in Namibia, the NDP4 plan has projected to decrease the unemployment rate from 27 percent (2012 statistics) to 20 percent by 2017 and to bring that figure even further down to 2.3 percent by 2030.

But some Members of Parliament were sceptical last week that such a target could be achieved, especially the very ambitious 2.3 percent unemployment rate, which they said was highly impossible to achieve given the less than 15 years left.

The ruling party, Swapo’s MP, Veikko Nekundi said that there was nothing wrong with dreaming big, but scientific research tells you that a plan must be smart, specific, measurable and timely.

“We know the reality; we don’t have the means,” he added, saying that one of the stumbling blocks that stir unemployment was the trend where winners of tenders import foreign skills while locals are side-lined.

Opposition leader in Parliament, McHenry Venaani of the DTA Party, said that such an unemployment projection was unachievable and made a mockery of the country as not even the most industrialised economies in the world have achieved unemployment below five percent.

Interestingly, the Minister of Economic Planning and National Planning, Tom Alweendo under whom the National Planning Commission falls, was also sceptical of the unemployment projections, saying that they were not realistic given the timeframe.

“We thought we had enough time, but with only 15 years left, you don’t cut from 27 percent to 2.3 percent,” he said, adding that the original national development plan had projected to bring unemployment to under five percent by 2030, but was not specific about the percentage.

Alweendo said that “if we did what we could have done” things would have been different, but added that it was now challenging to go that low.

However, the ruling party’s MP, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, who is the Minister of Home Affairs, was adamant that Namibia can achieve the 2.3 percent unemployment target if the country dreams big.

She said that there were countries in the Middle East where unemployment was almost non-existent to the extent that they have to import workers from somewhere else.

“Let’s just tighten our belts and work hard,” she said, adding that with only a population of 2.1 million it was possible to eliminate unemployment in Namibia.

With Namibia regarded as the country with the most unequal income distribution in the world, the National Planning Commission has come up with targeted interventions under the NDP4 to decrease income inequality from 0.59 in 2010 to 0.48 by 2017 and to reduce that further to 0.30 by the year 2030.

The NDPs have been developed within the context of a broader vision of becoming a prosperous and industrialised nation by 2030. 

April 2015
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