BIG increases economic activities: Diergaardt

09 Jul 2015 18:00pm
WINDHOEK, 09 JUL (NAMPA) – The coordinator of the Basic Income Grant (BIG) Coalition, Wilfred Diergaardt says the implementation of BIG will reduce poverty, unemployment and increase economic activities in the country.
He said this on Thursday in a presentation on the BIG coalition project during the first-ever Social Protection Conference in the capital.
The provision of a monthly grant, Diergaardt said, will further improve the educational outcome and health status of the majority of Namibians.
He said the BIG pilot project which started in January 2008 has touched the lives of a few Namibians living in the Otjivero-Omitara area, about 100 kilometres east of the capital. Each resident below the age of 60 years receive N.dollars 100 per month without any conditions attached.
The grant is given to every person registered as living there by July 2007, whatever their social and economic status.
BIG was proposed by the Namibia Tax Consortium in 2002 and the coalition was formed in 2004.
Diergaardt said the colonisation of Namibia by Germany and South Africa, respectively is the main cause of poverty in Namibia due to land dispossession, mineral extractions, genocide, racism, migrant labour, among others.
He explained that BIG has reduced women's dependency on men and has improved the effectiveness of HIV patients to get antiretroviral (ARV) drugs from healthcare services.
The coordinator further said BIG has changed the lives of many Namibians who could not even afford the clinic services fee of N.dollars 4.
Meanwhile, a representative from the Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare, Albert Biwa said during the same conference that the lack of national documents delay the process of registering people for social protection schemes.
He noted that most people in remote areas of the country have no national documents due to long distances they have to travel to obtain such documents and lack of information.
Biwa thus called for the establishment of one-stop-shops where individuals can access information and be able to register or apply for national documents and social protection schemes.
“Social protection programmes are essential to fight against poverty and inequality,” he said.
Biwa noted that Namibia is ranked second in Africa after South Africa with a high income inequality, and the country has a slow translation of economic growth into employment.
He supported the Social Security Commission (SSC) of Namibia’s intention to establish a medical benefit fund which will assist many Namibians, and recommended the establishment of a Social Protection Council to advise Cabinet on policies and performance of social protection systems.
The key objective of the conference is to disseminate achievements in the area of social protection in Namibia and deliberate on crucial areas of dynamic and comprehensive social protection in light of increased global interest and momentum in this area.
About 250 participants from African countries attended the conference organised by the SSC from Tuesday to Thursday this week.