President takes exception to Moody’s congress innuendo

Windhoek-President Hage Geingob has hit back at the ratings agency, Moody's, for its latest downgrade of Namibia's unsecured bonds to junk status, saying the agency's premise for its latest verdict on the country's prospects was purely speculative.

The president in particular took issue with the suggestion by Moody's that his administration would increase spending so as to influence the outcome of the upcoming Swapo elective congress in November.

Geingob believes the agency was too trigger-happy to downgrade the country, without considering the many positives at play.

We believe material factors which point towards an improvement of our fiscal position were not taken into consideration, Geingob said at the opening of the Swapo Party Central Committee meeting on Saturday.

The president said nothing substantive had changed since the country's last rating in December and that factors relied upon by Moody's to justify the downgrade were purely speculative and even extend to passing judgment on the democratic right of people within the governing party to freely express themselves in the run-up to and at the upcoming Swapo congress.

We are disturbed by the reference to the Swapo congress of 2017 and national elections of 2019, Geingob said, adding that it was nothing but unfounded speculation to say the government would increase expenditure to advance partisan political objectives. He said the suggestion by Moody's was plainly untrue and regrettable.

He further said the country's expenditure prerogatives are detailed in the national budget and will be further verified in the mid-year budget review in October.

It is therefore not true that there will be an increase in spending in the run-up to the Swapo congress. We have not deviated from our programme to consolidate fiscal spending and we're not going to do so in the three months leading up to the congress, President Geingob told the Central Committee.

He said Swapo is a mature political party under whose watch free, peaceful and democratic elections regularly take place.

We have no concern about the outcome of the 2019 national and presidential elections, as we are a party which has and continues to enjoy the trust of the masses, he said.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia