28 November 2017

Namibia: Congress Directs Swapo to Help With Economic Recovery

Windhoek — The just-ended Swapo congress has resolved that the ruling party do everything in its power to help government emerge out of the 'junk status' it was downgraded to by rating agency Moody's.

About a week ago, another rating agency, Fitch, downgraded Namibia to the same status.

Fitch said its downgrading of Namibia reflected weaker-than-forecast fiscal outcomes and that public debt-to-GDP will continue to rise over the medium term.

Namibia has been in the doldrums for nearly two years now, in part as a result of global economic contraction.

Several cost-cutting measures were put in place, but international rating agencies still went ahead to downgrade the economic outlook.

Having received a renewed mandate to lead the party and possibly stand as its candidate in the 2019 national presidential election, President Hage Geingob received backing from the party to help him turn around the country's economic fortunes.

The party said it noted Moody's downgrade of the economy to junk status, but no mention of the same act by Fitch was made in the document of draft resolutions obtained by New Era.

The party resolved "to support government efforts to improve revenue collection" and "to encourage government to continue to utilize Namibia's fisheries resources in a sustainable manner to improve the economy".

Government would also be directed to encourage and support the development of domestic and community-based tourism.

Government is further implored to support growth of the local mining sector, which is currently dominated by foreign companies. The party supported the fiscal policy implemented by Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein last year, saying it is sustainable and warrants support.

Government has also been directed to, in tune with existing policies, award tenders to Namibian companies in order to stimulate growth of the economy and create much-needed jobs.

The unemployment rate in Namibia increased to 34 percent in 2016 from 28.10 percent in 2014. Namibia's unemployment rate averaged 27.29 percent from 1997 until 2016, reaching an all-time high of 37.60 percent in 2008 and a record low of 19.50 percent in 1997.

To protect jobs, the party availed itself for regular dialogue and engagement with workers in order to find solutions to challenges and issues regularly affecting the country's workforce.

"That government strictly enforce Namibian laws to compel everyone to comply with the taxation, labour, health and safety laws and regulations in order to protect government revenue and our workers," the party further resolved.


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