Mid-year budget review depressing: Maamberua

24 Oct 2018 19:50pm
WINDHOEK, 24 OCT (NAMPA) – Several politicians have expressed mixed views over the Mid-Year Budget Review for the 2018/19 financial year presented by Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein on Wednesday, with some saying the budget is anti-poor.
The politicians were reacting to the mid-year budget which remained unchanged at N.dollars 58.5 billion.
Speaking to Nampa, All People’s Party (APP) vice president Reinhold Nauyoma saw little if any changes in the budget, compared to the one tabled earlier this year.
Nauyoma’s major take-away from Wednesday’s budget speech is that the funds were now aligned with and re-directed to the country’s most pressing needs.
He pointed to Veterans Affairs whose budget was revised upwards from N.dollars 608.6 million to N.dollars 708.4 million as one example where the government addressed a pressing need.
“To me that is a positive move,” he said.
Asked what the budget failed to address, Nauyoma replied: “The budget remains not pro-poor (anti-poor), because the young people who are unemployed remain with the same problem.”
Swanu’s Usuatuaije Maamberua described the budget as “depressing”.
“Not only is the budget depressing, but the very environment in which we operate is very depressing. The external (and) domestic environment is very depressing,” Maamberua told reporters.
He was however quick to give credit to Schlettwein for the manner in which he has redirected the national budget saying it “was a genuine attempt”.
But, said Maamberua, there is now political will to curb excessive expenditure in the public sector in order to stimulate the economy in terms of diversification.
Moreover, the projected drop in Southern African Customs Union (SACU) revenue is something that worries Maamberua.
“Chickens are actually coming home to roost in terms of the SACU revenue that is dwindling,” he said, adding that the South African economy is offering little hope in this regard.
Maamberua was further disappointed that the budget offered little in terms of what the government intends to allocate to finance the resolutions which emanated from the second National Land Conference.
The Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP)’s Mike Kavekotora was disappointed that the government continues prioritising social grants as a weapon to fight poverty.
“That to me is nonsense. Social grants are serving a particular purpose. But the government must start thinking outside of the box and start on how they are going to grow the economy,” the RDP secretary general said.
He said the real poverty alleviation mechanism is through economic growth.
“What we are seeing here is that most of our minerals are going out raw. We have unemployment that has been cited at 35 per cent, 45 per cent for the youth. You cannot fight unemployment with social grants.”