BIG Coalition urges for action

11 Jul 2015 11:40am
WINDHOEK, 11 JUL (NAMPA) – “Half of Namibia has less than what they need in order to survive,” a member of the Basic Income Grant (BIG) Coalition says.
Uhuru Dempers said this on Tuesday during the opening of the annual Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) Expo and Symposium in Katutura. He noted the need for a universal grant for all citizens of Namibia, saying: “BIG alone will not alleviate poverty, but it will alleviate the suffering of the people”.
BIG is a proposal given by the Namibian Tax Consortium (Namtax) in the year 2002 as a tool to redistribute income in Namibia.
The consortium proposed that every Namibian should have a citizenship right to N.dollars 100 per month until the age of retirement or the age of receiving the old age pension. The BIG Coalition was formed in 2005 and the income grant was piloted in the village of Otjivero in 2008, where a BIG of N.dollars 100 resulted in a decrease in child malnutrition, school drop-outs, women engaging in transactional sex and poverty-related crime; and an increase in self-employment or profit generating activities amongst many. The Assessment Report of September 2008 on the pilot project concluded that contrary to criticism of the grant promoting laziness or alcohol consumption, the BIG generally improved the quality of life in Otjivero.
“Today we need to start discussions at N.dollars 200,” Dempers said whilst reflecting on the decade-old initiative to the economic circumstances of today.
When asked about the reason for making the grant a universal right in a country where there are people who have more than plenty, he replied that a basic income grant with a universal nature would minimize the administrative costs needed for the distribution of the grant.
Dempers added that the progressive tax system would ensure that the money distributed to the ones already well off would circulate back into the system.
“BIG is a right, but not a necessity. Nobody is forced to collect the money,” he stated.
Dempers emphasised the BIG is not only a project of Namibia but something that should be worked on in the whole of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
“Even though poverty has been put to the agenda, there seems to be a lack of urgency.
“People go to sleep hungry already tonight,” he concluded.
The annual NGO Expo and Symposium saw several speeches delivered by among others Government and international representatives, including Windhoek Mayor Muesee Kazapua, and the Minister of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare Zephania Kameeta.