Windhoek — Minister of Trade and Industry Calle Schlettwein has advised the creator of Misery Index Arthur Okun to visit Nepal, which is number eight on the Misery Index and then come to Namibia to make a realistic comparison. The comments, made on Monday at the private sector review on the state of the Namibian economy, follow the release of the new Misery Index that ranks Namibia as the seventh most miserable country to live in on the globe. "He (Okun) also uses outdated information such as the old unemployment figure and the old Gini-coefficient," said Schlettwein at the review that coincided with the release of the 2013 Namibia Business and Investment Climate Survey.
The Misery Index is an economic indicator created by economist Okun, which uses the premise that the overall misery of a country can be calculated by adding the unemployment rate to the inflation rate. The index assumes that both a higher rate of unemployment and a worsening of inflation create economic and social costs for a country.
Namibian business people who participated in the Namibia Business and Investment Climate (NamBic) Survey rated the economic conditions in 2012 as more favourable than those of 2011, and are even upbeat regarding the prospects for 2013, contrary to global economic prospects.
The survey, which is the fourth consecutive annual survey since NamBic was launched in 2009, also shows that the investment mood in Namibia has deteriorated and moved into negative territory for all categories of companies. Below-average investment is expected and in particular in research and development.
Also of interest in the survey is that fewer firms intend to increase job opportunities or reduce their workforce. The number of companies planning to increase their labour force however far outweighs the companies planning to shed labour.
The private sector review, organised by the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI), the Namibian Manufacturers Association (NMA) and the Institute for Public Policy Research and sponsored by the German Institution for Development (GIZ), coincided with the launch of the annual NamBic. "Of course there is room for improvement (in Namibia) and that is the relevance of a home grown survey like NamBic," said Schlettwein.
The survey shows that access to and cost of finance re-surfaced as the biggest challenge for all businesses, irrespective of size, age or whether formal or informal, followed by access to land and the cost of utilities. In addition, the ease of registration and the time and complexity of the registration process is rated lower than in the previous survey, though still relatively positively.
"The only way to do so [grow the economy] is to continue to grow the private sector, which requires an environment in which the private sector feels encouraged and incentivised to invest more in the economy. We need to become more investor friendly to ensure that we make our business environment more conducive to attract investors. One way of doing it would be to reduce the cost of doing business to the minimum ad provide easy access to skills and technology," commented Sven Thieme, the NCCI's first vice-president.
This year's survey also comments on the quality of health and educational services which showed improvement and received a better rating than in the previous two years. While large firms are most satisfied with the provision of health services, they are least satisfied with the quality of the education system. However, all ratings remained in positive territory.