Budget Debate Continues – RDP Questions Spending

During continued debate on the national budget last week, Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) Member of Parliament, Heiko Lucks, again questioned the fact that no provision was made for an increase in old-age pensions in the 2014 budget. “An increase only every second year will continue to increase the destitution of our senior citizens as prices of basic goods and services needed to lead a decent and worthy life are increasing much more regularly than every two years,” said Lucks.

The RDP MP also questioned the escalation in the size of the national debt, calling it “a dangerous path of peril.” “I have mentioned this in previous years and the minister will not convince me that this growth in debt is within control, especially when the growth is at a rate of a staggering 27.2 percent. Our mushrooming debt will haunt us in the years to come,” said Lucks who also called the Targeted Intervention Programme for Employment and Economic Growth (TIPEEG) a ‘massive failure’. According to him very few permanent jobs have been created through the programme. “Jobs were mainly created in the construction of infrastructure and as soon as these projects were completed most jobs were lost again,” noted Lucks. He also expressed concern over the number of government projects, which he said are decreasing year after year.

Swapo Party MP, Eliphas Dingara, also commented on the budget. “Effective implementation of the budget remains crucial and that can only be made possible if those who are given the responsibility become honest and open for aice and positive criticism. We have good plans, good policies and so on, but do we have proper management? Do we have proper performance monitoring systems and outcome evaluation system?” Dingara continued that people must be able to admit when something is not right and accept credit when it is truly due. “We must hold implementors accountable for their actions. We need to appreciate the work and the need of the budget. However, we need to ensure that the appreciation can only be truly recognized after successful implementation brings tangible results and this is what we need to emphasize,” Dingara said.

Meanwhile, Lucks continued that in order to achieve Vision 2030 and for Namibia to become an industrialized nation demands a total rethink of how financial resources are spent. “Take the pitiful amount of N$1 billion allocated to the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Are we demonstrating with this our resolve to become an industrialized nation? On the other hand we are expected to accept that our nation needs and will benefit from exorbitant and self-grandiose (sic) projects like a new Parliament building, N$700 million, a new office for the Prime Minister, N$600 million, a new office for the current Head of State after his term ends, N$100 million. And the list goes on. How do these projects totalling several billion Namibia dollars contribute to industrialization, and how do these projects contribute to job creation when the tenders for the construction thereof will in all likelihood go to Chinese or North Korean construction companies,” Lucks queries further.

Lucks also expressed disbelief at the fact that the Ministry of Finance is now in its second year without a deputy minister. “Let me be clear that I have confidence in the abilities of the minister (of finance), but let me also be clear that I find it absolutely unacceptable that she, for such a prolonged time has had to operate without a deputy,” remarked Lucks.

Source : New Era