The People v Govt’s New Planned Buildings [opinion]

WHO or what is important or a priority to our government? Is it the people or the new buildings that administer the affairs for and on behalf of the people? I think it is provided that the needs of the majority of the people are first met.

The main question in this context is: Are the needs of the majority of the people being met by government? If the answer is yes, then government can spend on new and modern administrative buildings and if not, then the balance of spending should be directly in favour of the people.

This is, however, debatable.

Despite the above question, I should hereby acknowledge at the onset that our government is doing a lot for the people but could, based on the reality on the ground do a lot more, provided adequate funds are available. So, another question is, does government have adequate funds?

For the purpose of this article, the majority of the people represents all sections and aspects of society that urgently need the spending attention from government.

The current ongoing budget debate regarding the construction of a new parliament building and Office of the Prime Minister and his staff to a combined value of N$1,4 billion has, in my view, opened up a new development that there are in fact adequate funds available in the State coffers to invest directly into the economy to alleviate poverty and destitution.

Despite these challenges, there are some individuals within our Swapo-led government, who, for whatever reason, find it better to divert these available funds into new national administrative buildings.

Silly defensive arguments by some of these politicians, among others, include that the current parliament building resembles pre-colonial architecture design is an extremely dangerous line to put forward and could open up a perception that all pre-colonial structures should be demolished and new modern ones constructed in their place. This line of argument, for obvious reasons, should never be accepted.

Taking into account the scarce financial resources and the need to uplift the welfare of the majority of our people, Namibia is very fortunate to already have the necessary fundamental institutional structures to carry out the duties of government and should henceforth and at all cost focus all its attention and available resources to improve the living standard and conditions of the majority of the people.

The irresponsible choice among many pressing national problems by GRN to spend more than N$1,4 billion of taxpayers’ funds on the construction of two new national administrative buildings has, however, proven beyond reasonable doubt that GRN does in fact have the necessary funds to improve the living standard and conditions of the majority of the people, provided that the political will and a clear leadership in this context is there.

The outdated excuse that there are no funds available to adequately invest in the welfare of the citizens is a big lie and will no longer hold water going forward. Funds are there and are just perhaps being intentionally misdirected elsewhere, where the true value and benefit to society is very difficult to substantiate.

To achieve Vision 2030 is a very tall order and any intention to achieve it will require a business unusual approach whereby wastage at any cost should be avoided. N$1,4 billion is a lot of money to be spent elsewhere and should instead be diverted towards the welfare of the people.

Namibia simply does not have the comfort to squander funds when there are larger and more important issues facing the nation.

It is therefore clear from the aocation of some sections of our politicians that funds are in fact available for certain unnecessary civil infrastructure developments but not necessarily for the people. This particular line of thought does not augur well for the future socio-economic development of the country as it is regressive rather than progressive.

In conclusion, scarce government financial resources should be channeled towards productive sectors and areas that can improve the living conditions of the majority of the people and only when that is achieved should spare resources be perhaps be used for pet projects.

Pendapala Hangala is a socio-economist commentator and this article is written towards the aims and objectives of Vision 2030.

Source : The Namibian