Nam unveils R57.54 billion budget
By Andreas Thomas
WINDHOEK – Namibia Minister of Finance, Calle Schlettwein, on Wednesday presented the national budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year totalling R57.54 billion in the National Assembly.
The government has consistently invested a significant share of the national budget in the social sectors for human capital development, improvement of the quality of life for Namibians and overall living standards.
A significant portion of the budget will be invested in the social sector, with the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture getting the lion’s share of over R11.98 billion out of the R27.44 billion allocated for the social sector and the Ministry of Higher Education getting over R3.07 billion.
“This is the highest budget allocation, in keeping with the historical priority accorded to education,” Schlettwein is his budget speech.
Ministry of Health and Social Services receives the second highest allocation of R6.51 billion, while R3.28 billion is allocated to the Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare for the provision of social safety nets and other anti-poverty intervention measures.
In particular, the old-age monthly grant increases to R1,200 from R1,000 and coverage for orphans and vulnerable children will be further expanded to include all the qualifying beneficiaries.
The budget for the financial year ending March 31, 2018, is lower than R61.12 billion for 2016/17 that was later reduced to R57.62 billion in October last year due to a liquidity crunch.
He said the budget is presented at a time when “we need to rededicate our efforts towards the values and objectives of our democracy in a unitary, developmental State”.
“The Namibian economy is emerging from a perfect storm. Externally, we had to deal with the impact of the commodity price crash, a slowing global economy and low growth in large neighbouring economies.
“We experienced a severe drought during the last three consecutive years, with negative effects not only in the agricultural sector, but also in wet industries and the construction supply chain.
“Liquidity came under pressure due to weak market confidence and consequently, a tight cash flow situation. Economic growth slowed in 2016 to an estimated 1.3 percent.”
He added that: “Despite these developments and, the slow economic recovery in Namibia’s main trading partners, the weak growth in commodity prices and increasing uncertainty in the global geopolitical environment, the medium-term prospects for our economy have started to look better. Growth is projected to be 2.5 percent in the coming financial year.
“We have also rebalanced our public expenditure in line with the revised macro-economic outlook and public revenue estimates, thereby putting public finances on a more sustainable path. The budget before you reflects this and establishes the new norm of closely aligning expenditure to revenue,” said the finance minister.