The storm is over: Schlettwein

16 Jun 2018 18:10pm
WINDHOEK, 16 JUN (NAMPA) – Finance minister Calle Schlettwein said the country’s perfect 2016/2017 economic storm is over and that Namibia looks to the future with optimism, projecting growth at 1,2 per cent in 2018.
The growth is expected to strengthen further to above 3 per cent over the medium term, Schlettwein said during the repositioning of Old Mutual’s primary listing from London to Johannesburg at Safari Hotel Friday evening.
He said the economy is showing resurgent growth prospects and called on the financial sector to meet Government halfway in growing the Namibian economy.
“We expect final consumption demands to remain moderate in the near-term, given a largely neutral policy stance,” he said.
The minister said except for uranium, commodity exports are benefiting from price improvements and new mining activities for lithium and tin.
He continued that activities in the agriculture sector remain firm due to improved rainfall over the last two years while the hard-hit construction industry is also showing signs of recovery.
“The construction sector is bottoming out of a protracted contraction and so is the wholesale and retail sector.”
Last year, the Construction Industries Federation (CIF) of Namibia revealed that 63 per cent of businesses had either closed down, were dormant, or scaled down operations extremely.
Schlettwein called on the financial sector to come aboard with capital investment to supply credit for growth, employment creation, the reduction of poverty and inequalities.
Statistics provided by the minister show that despite the subdued economic environment in 2017, the non-banking financial sector’s assets grew to N.dollars 288.9 billion from N.dollars 244.9 billion the previous year.
This is led by pension funds, with a total of N.dollars 152 billion constituting 52,9 per cent of the sector’s total assets, followed by long-term insurance and collective investment schemes.
“Private sector business expansion, in particular high-growth SMEs are in search of investible capital and access to finance,” he said, pleading to the financial sector to come forth with such finance.
On its part, according to Schlettwein, Government has put in place a conducive policy environment for private investment. He pointed to the public procurement and public private partnership legislation as examples of such policies, adding that legislation for the non-banking sector will be tabled in the National Assembly this year.
“I anticipate a spirit of partnership from all industry players to move this reform forward and continually address emerging needs in future consideration,” he concluded.