10 February 2016

Namibia: We Are Not Broke - Geingob

PRESIDENT Hage Geingob has maintained that the government is not broke and insisted that the economic outlook of the country is promising.

Geingob made the remarks yesterday when he opened the sixth session of the third parliament in a hot tent set up in the parliament garden to accommodate the expanded legislature.

The President tried to play down comments by economic commentators that the country was financially crippled.

"Unlike what some wanted to portray, the Namibian government is not broke. To the contrary, we are a creditworthy nation and the long-term out look for Namibia is positive," he said.

According to him, the country will continue to build on the legacy of fiscal discipline and prudence that was built over 25 years.

The President has been accused of expanding ministries, increasing parliamentarians and advisers, and lavishly spending on infrastructure projects - even though he cancelled some shady deals last year.

Geingob fell short of backing up his claims that the country was not broke by the end of last year. He instead turned the page to poverty eradication.

He said his administration has demonstrated that they mean business in less than a year to eradicate poverty, promotion of transparency and building an inclusive Namibian house.

The Namibian has since last year reported how the presidency has continued being secretive and only deciding to share information they feel should be sent out.

Geingob said he will announce the details of his "Harambee Prosperity Plan" in a few months at the state of the nation address.

The President passed the buck by not taking responsibility for a costly proposed new parliament building, distancing himself from the project and saying it is not under his jurisdiction.

"I have received numerous messages from people imploring me to halt the construction of the building," he said.

Geingob reminded those asking him to block the plans for a new parliament building that he could not interfere in legislative issues because of a separation of powers.

"Furthermore, I have noted with concern that some of these calls are emanating from members of parliament. So perhaps there is a need for an open debate on this matter in the parliament," Geingob added.

Budget debates over the past few years have shown that most Namibian lawmakers have earned a reputation of being vocal on issues mostly affecting them and turning a blind eye to issues that do not directly affect them. Geingob warned parliamentarians to craft laws that will benefit the country and not individual lawmakers.

"I therefore urge you to debate these bills knowing that you are not speaking on your own behalves but on behalf of the country's poor, the country's young and old and the country's women, men and children," he added.

The head of state said lawmakers should ensure that parliament is an institution where the voices and preferences of the people, especially the poor, are represented.

Geingob highlighted 10 bills that are likely to be passed this year. These include the national budget, the Agronomic Industry Bill, Business and Intellectual Property Bill, the Child Justice Bill, Estate Agents and Property Developer Bill and the Land Bill.

Other bills include the Marital Property Bill, the Namibia Industrial Development Agency Bill, the Property Valuers Profession Amendment Bill and the Whistle-blowers Protection Bill.

Geingob specifically highlighted that the Whistle-blowers Protection Bill will aim to protect witnesses or sources of information that implicate others.

The President, however, warned that "let us ensure that when we blow our whistles, we blow for the right reasons and not to settle scores". Geingob also reminded the legislature, which mostly consists of Swapo politicians, that 2016 should be about turning words into action.

"It is time to implement. The eyes of the nation are on us. I repeat, the eyes of the nation are on us," he said.


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