Since all the dust has now settled down from the much hyped celebrations of independence and inauguration ceremony it is back to reality.
Only tomorrow Namibians will be glued to their television sets to know what is in store for them from the national budget. We certainly hope the new minister of Finance Calle Schlettwein will give a people cantered budged that has potential to address the challenges of unemployment, poverty, hunger and inequality.
Government in the past has tried to stimulate the economy through investing in the creation of short term jobs through the Targeted Intervention Programme for Employment and Economic Growth (Tipeeg).
Somewhat this did not work as analyst had predicted because Government did not structure the plan in such a way that creates employment in the long term.
We have also heard of numerous public statements where Government has promised to tackle inequality head on and again this remains one of the biggest challenge facing the country today.
One aspect that the Government has not found a solution on since independence is reducing the levels of poverty affecting the ordinary Namibians. It is actually disheartening to note that Namibia is one of the richest countries in Africa and is also ranked as an upper middle income country but to date we still have instances where the citizenry is eating from the dumpsite.
One hopes that whatever plan Schlettwein comes with he should be able to curb some of the challenges in the bud. It will be imperative that the Minister find ways of improving the social safety nets. It is pretty unforgivable that our senior citizens have to live on a meagre N$600 per month when simple mathematics shows that even a family of two three need at least N$1500 to cater for their basic needs.
What is more disheartening is that Government has in the past raised concern about unemployment but there is no definite plan laid out to country the problem.
One would expect Government come up with some of the plans that as once used by Franklin D. Roosevelt to pull the United States out of Great depression. At that time the USA was struggling with high unemployment and an equally uneducated citizenry. In his plan to clamp down on the rising unemployment Roosevelt pumped a lot of money in public infrastucture development thereby absorbing all the youth that were in the streets for a reasonable income.
Namibia could utilise the same methods by making sure that more money is pumped into infrastructure development including rebuilding the railway network as this has potential to absorb semiskilled staff.
One would also expect Schlettwein to pour have Government restricting projects like the expansion of the port to locals. While the Chinese will make the big money after winning the tenders there is certainly no reason why a Chinese national should come and push a will barrow something that the youth can do.
If the minister of Finance closes the tap on public entities that are not eager to engage locals on meagre jobs the country will automatically deal with some of the challenges arising from unemployment.
We expect Schlettwein to give us a people centred budget with the relevant answers to the country’s problems. We do expect to hear the minister giving us yet another elitist budget that does not relate to the poor man in the street who has to face the challenges head on.
While Government would want to have more money one would feel that another tax relief for the low income earning bracket will not kill anyone but will put a smile on the many locals who need it.