NATIONAL Planning Commission (NPC) Director General Tom Alweendo yesterday called on ministries to execute their development budgets better, saying there is no reason why Government doesn't spend 100% of the money available to it to fight poverty and create jobs.
"Maybe we're still getting use to the urgency with which we have to do things," Alweendo said at a press conference.
He confirmed figures published by The Namibian at the end of last year that only 33 965 new temporary and permanent jobs were created in the first 18 months since Government launched its N$14,7-billion Targeted Intervention Programme for Employment and Economic Growth (Tipeeg) in 2011. This is less than the average target of about 34 667 new jobs per year earmarked by Tipeeg.
"The biggest criticism against the programme [Tipeeg] has been that it is a lot of money that is being spent on creating mainly short-term jobs," Alweendo said.
"My response has been and still is that while it is true that most of the immediate jobs to be created will be of a short-term nature, you cannot hope to create long-term jobs without having provided for a conducive environment. For example, without proper infrastructure, such as energy generation, rail, roads and harbours, you will not succeed in creating long-term jobs. That is why Tipeeg is aimed at providing the necessary economic infrastructure," Alweendo said.
He is, however, concerned about the slow execution of the Tipeeg budget, Alweendo indicated.
In the 2011-12 financial year, the Tipeeg budget was N$5,35 billion, of which N$4,01 billion was spent, representing an execution rate of 75%. In the process 25 394 jobs were created.
However, in the first six months of the 2012-13 financial year, only N$1,1 billion of the year's Tipeeg budget of N$4,02 billion was spent - an execution rate of 27,5%. Only 8 571 jobs were created.
"I will be the first one to admit that we need to do more in terms of executing the planned projects," Alweendo said.
The Namibian in December reported that Cabinet was told that Tipeeg's poor performance was either the result of ministries sitting on their development budgets or them failing to submit the required progress reports to the NPC to monitor the implementation of the employment creation blueprint.
Alweendo yesterday said the NPC Bill, which he is confident will be finalised during the current session of Parliament, will give the NPC the legal mandate to monitor and evaluate not only the implementation of Tipeeg, but also of the Fourth National Development Plan (NDP4).
In addition, the NPC falls under the Office of the President, which should give it the necessary clout to force ministries to submit the required quarterly progress reports.
"Everything we do, we do on behalf of the President - therefore we have enough clout," Alweendo said.
He also called on the Ministry of Trade and Industry to implement the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Policy "without further delay". Alweendo said the goals of NDP4 cannot be realised unless Namibia makes the necessary public and private sector investment.
To achieve the NDP4 goals, which include the creation of more than 90 000 jobs by 2017, about N$187 billion will have to be spent. In the process, the NPC hopes to cut the unemployment rate by four percentage points, and decrease the proportion of severely poor Namibia to below 10% of the population.
To ensure that Namibia's macroeconomic stability doesn't suffer as a result, PPPs will be crucial.
"I am equally mindful that of the fact that our development cannot be fully funded through the traditional funding mechanism - that is through the budget. Our best option is to complement public funding with private funding," Alweendo said.