Opposition parties slam defence budget

07 Mar 2018 21:50pm
WINDHOEK, 07 MAR (NAMPA) – Opposition parties have labelled the N.dollars 6 billion allocated to the Ministry of Defence unjustifiable in the face of other socio-economic challenges in the country.
Minister of Finance, Calle Schlettwein tabled the 2018/19 National Budget in the National Assembly on Wednesday, allocating one of the biggest portions of the N.dollars 65 billion budget to defence.
Opposition party leaders have termed this “unrealistic and unacceptable in the face of high unemployment levels, ailing education and health sectors and a struggling economy”.
Speaking to Nampa shortly after the tabling of the budget, Popular Democratic Movement treasurer general Nico Smit expressed dismay over the money allocated to defence juxtaposed with education.
“I don’t think we really need to spend that type of money at this point in time. We are not in a war. We are not threatened. We have peace and stability,” said Smit.
He said State funds should be directed to other burning issues, such as the provision of land and to improve living conditions in informal settlements, where the majority of Namibians reside.
Echoing similar sentiments was Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) secretary general, Mike Kavekotora, who branded the defence budget “a contradiction”.
He said arguments brought forth to justify the defence budget do not hold water.
“Namibia is not in a situation where we have an enemy that might want to attack us,” he said.
Agreeing with Smit and Kavekotora was National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) president Asser Mbai.
“I am not sure that the current budget allocated to defence will be used fruitfully,” he said.
He said a classic example of misappropriation of State funds by the defence ministry is their recent acquisition of Farm Oropoko for N.dollars 45 million.
In total, N.dollars 12.7 billion has been allocated to the public safety sector. The sector comprises the ministries of Defence, Safety and Security, Home Affairs, Judiciary and the Anti-Corruption Commission.
Justifying the allocation in the NA, Schlettwein said, “allocations for this important sector are kept at significant levels and it would be unwise to compromise the sovereignty and safety of our nation and its citizens.”
(NAMPA)
MEM/PS/HP/AS