Government’s arrogance and ignorance brought us here: Venaani

27 Mar 2019 22:00pm
WINDHOEK, 27 MAR (NAMPA) – Leader of the official opposition, McHenry Venaani has attributed Namibia’s N.dollars 87.5 billion public debt and high wage bill, which increased by 110 per cent in the last five years, to government’s failure to accommodate divergent views.
Venaani made these remarks on Wednesday in reaction to the N.dollars 60.1 billion National Budget tabled in the National Assembly by Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein.
In an interview with Nampa after the tabling of the budget, the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) leader said the government is to blame for the situation.
He pointed to his call on various platforms for an economic and job summit to the government as one of the instances where views were ignored.
According to the politician, it is also time to ask if Namibians got their value for money that was spent on the investment summit a few years ago, if the country continues being in a precarious economic state.
“What has the investment conference brought to the country?” he asked.
The PDM president noted that it was also a cause of concern that the budget failed to address how the government intents to deal with parastatals that have for years drained the State's coffers.
Another disappointing factor to Vanaani is the N.dollars 1.9 billion allocated to the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development.
“The president declared shacks a humanitarian disaster. But he is not even giving billions to the housing ministry… so how do you really want to finance the housing crisis in the country?” he further questioned.
“If you are telling us that you are a government that is trying to bring changes to this country and you are not even talking about your own Harambee Prosperity Plan, (it is) because the plan is gone… It is the first budget that has never mentioned Harambee Prosperity Plan or Vision 2030.”
Schlettwein, however, dismissed Venaani's assertion that government is arrogant.
“People that are saying that were very quiet when the budget was extended and when expenditure was increased quite significantly. So they were part and parcel, as members of this house, of bringing the country where it is,” he said.
It is equally unfair to say bluntly that excessive government expenditure did not have any positives, the finance minister added.
“We had a period of seven year of growth above 5 per cent. We ended 2015 with 6.1 per cent growth and that is the result of that spending,” he noted.
The minister then acceded that the trend of financing excessive expenditure with borrowed funds is unsustainable.
“That increased spending must end. And we, when we started were unfortunately at that point where the unsustainability had crept in and where we had to consolidate. That is what we are doing... If we hadn’t done it, we [would have] slipped into micro-economic instability,” Schlettwein said.
Rally for Democracy and Progress Secretary General and presidential candidate, Mike Kavekotora questioned whether the budget is really aimed at stimulating economic growth and reduce unemployment.
“Does the budget really talk about stimulating growth because this is something the president spoke about, where he said he is busy working on a package that will stimulate the growth of our economy. Now the question is, those two (national budget and package) should go hand in hand. How do you have a budget that does not speak to what the president is looking at? What will happen now if in April, the president comes in with a stimulating plan… How do you synergise the budget to the stimulating plan?” Kavekotora asked.