Parliament Okays N$60 Billion Budget

The Minister of Finance Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila urged calm over the country’s economy after the National Assembly approved the N$60.28 billion budget for 201415 last Wednesday.

The finance minister assured citizens that the Namibian economy is highly sustainable, providing sufficient room to address problems facing Namibians towards improving their welfare.

“At a debt level of 27 percent, we are highly sustainable fiscally and there are very few countries in our position. I call upon the public not to be unnecessarily frustrated and negative about the situation but to rather adopt a more positive attitude and grasp opportunities presented by this expansionary fiscal policy that we are proposing in order to improve the welfare of our people towards contributing to the development of the country,” she said.

For those calling on government to put a halt to high government expenditure, she said: “You do not sustain the fiscal situation by controlling expenditure, especially for a country like ours that is under development and facing social challenges.”

She warned that, by doing so, the country would find itself in a situation where the level of expenditure in absolute terms remained fixed but as a ratio of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and honouring commitments it will be less able to do that because the economy would have stagnated, while poverty and unemployment would spiral out of control.

“The most effective way to achieve fiscal sustainability is to continue growing the economy and strengthen its capacity to afford to sustain expenditure that we need to incur to provide services that are required by our people,” she said.

According to the finance minister, there are “people who attempt to ridicule the budget by asking whether the budget is pro-cyclical or countercyclical.”

“I maintain that ours is countercyclical. It is attempting to prop up the economy in order to consolidate the recovery we have achieved because there are so many risks out there and we can slip back into a problem situation that we experienced a few years back,” said the finance minister.

Government has its objectives, said the minister, adding: “One of those is to restructure the economy and to lay the foundation for long term higher and sustainable growth to address inequities and unemployment and to achieve industrialisation.”

She added that the decision to re-grade civil servants last year was meant to attract skills and motivate those employed by government to render services.

“These are the things that our fiscal policy must support. We collected the money to allocate it to improve the lives of our people, not to fatten government’s account so that we can look as if we are working,” said Kuugongelwa-Amadhila.

“As a minister of finance, what makes me proud is to go around the world to make known government’s achievements for its people. I do not want a situation where we have a balanced budget but unemployment is at 40 percent, it simply does not achieve anything,” she said.

Source : New Era