High expectations for 2018/19 national budget

06 Mar 2018 15:00pm
By Anna Salkeus
WINDHOEK, 06 MAR (NAMPA) – Analysts have high expectations of the 2018/19 national budget, which will be tabled by Minister of Finance Calle Schlettwein in the National Assembly on Wednesday.
Among the anticipated issues to be addressed are developments in the economy, regional integration, higher education, monetary policy, tax policies and fiscal developments.
Speaking to Nampa on Monday, political analyst Dr Hoze Riruako said he expects Schlettwein to enlighten the country on how much the austerity measures taken to cut Government spending have eased the burden on treasury.
“That will include how much money Government was able to save during the process and we also expect the minister to talk about some of the arrears for contractors, suppliers and vendors,” he said.
He added that Schlettwein should also inform Namibians on how much money was saved during the tax amnesty period and whether Government achieved its objective to collect over N.dollars 4 billion in taxes accumulated over 20 years till 2017.
Riruako highlighted critical areas such as the land issue and costs for the second land conference scheduled to take place this year.
“And if we are to alienate any land from the landlords, is Government preparing something to make sure that we will be able to foot the bill associated with land alienation from some of the landlords?”
He noted that the Harambee Prosperity Plan should feature in the 2018/19 budget, with the minister explaining how its five pillars are being budgeted for.
“If you unpack all these pillars, you have the Food Bank also included and the minister must explain how all these things will be budgeted for. He has to be more creative with the budget as Government cannot afford to put more burden on the taxpayers, but find other ways to tap resources,” Riruako stated.
Meanwhile, economist and co-founder of Cirrus Capital, Rowland Brown said during the one-day 2018 Investment Summit held on Tuesday that he expects expenditure increase in salaries and wages, the return of some capital projects and tax increases to be announced.
The summit was hosted in the capital by Eljota Investment Managers with the aim to give local and regional investors a sense of the local economic environment.
“We expect Government to revise its allocation to State-owned Enterprises (SoEs) slightly, simply because of the fact that it has been very difficult to keep SoE expenditure under control,” Brown said.
He however pointed out that a tax increase was probable with the introduction of a dividend tax on all dividends paid in the country.
“We do expect Government to also forecast a lower deficit and faster fiscal consolidation and we believe that this will largely be off the back of the increases in tax and expectations of better revenue,” Brown said.
He said it was unlikely that the taxes would be efficient in getting the country out of the fiscal deficit at the current point in time, adding that the budget deficit would remain lower for longer this year.
A continuation in the trend of larger deficits is also expected over an extended period of time, which he said is of concern because liquidity issues are starting to resurface in the Namibian economy.