7 March 2018

Namibia: Govt Budget Should Prioritise Youth - NYC

National Youth Council director Calista Schwartz-Gowases says they expect this year's national budget to cater for more youth developmental projects and priorities.

Schwartz-Gowases made the remarks in a statement issued yesterday.

Finance minister Calle Schlettwein is expected to table the national budget in parliament today.

The NYC, which falls under the youth ministry, has been hard-hit by budget cuts in recent years. The youth ministry's budget was drastically cut over the past four years, from about N$700 million in 2014 to N$385 million in 2017. The budget was, however, increased to N$430 million in the revised budget of November last year.

Schwartz-Gowases expects this year's budget to be pro-youth in support of youth development projects in order to avoid "the albatross effect on our society".

She added that most of the youth development programmes and activities aimed at improving the lives of young people have not been implemented because of "budget cuts every year".

"For the past few years, budget allocations to youth development have become so meagre that it is almost impossible to run programmes and projects meant to develop our young people," Schwartz-Gowases said.

Youth development and empowerment programmes offered by the NYC include vocational and skills training, voluntary community services and civic training.

The Namibian reported last month that most youth development centres were not up to required standards, and most had low intakes or were under-utilised.

Schwartz-Gowases said government needed to consider young people first when budgeting because the population of the youth was rapidly increasing.

"The youth constitute 50% of the national population. If adolescents and children are considered part of the group, that population will rise to a staggering 80%. "Investing in the youth by harnessing the youth demographic dividend is what should guide budget policy this year," she stated.

In addition, the NYC director urged government to provide more support to tertiary institutions, as well as expand support to entrepreneurship programmes.

"To improve the employability of the youth, the envisaged mass national internship and apprenticeship programme should be financed and rolled out in the current medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF), and concrete action taken on housing problems," she noted.

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