8 March 2018

Namibia: We Can't Cut What Is Not There - MPs

Some members of parliament were not surprised by the decrease in the national budget for the 2018/19 financial year that was announced by finance minister Calle Schlettwein in parliament yesterday.

All People's Party (APP) vice president Reinhold Nauyoma expressed concern that decreased allocations would lead to further fiscal and economic challenges in the year ahead.

"We were expecting cuts from the budget, but you cannot cut what is not available. Last year, we had a reduction, and now it has gone lower. But where do you cut?" Nauyoma asked.

Schlettwein tabled a reduced budget of N$65 billion for 2018/19, down from the estimated N$66,05 billion expenditure in the 2017/18 financial year.

While there was a total budget reduction, the minister said government would continue its high spending on safety and security as well as defence.

Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) parliamentarian Nico Smit said government was spending "far too much on safety, security and defence".

Other MPs echoed similar sentiments, saying Namibia was a peaceful country, which was not facing any serious security threats. Therefore, big allocations to these sectors were unjustifiable.

United Democratic Front (UDF) vice president Dudu Murorua said health should instead have received a big slice of the budget.

"Looking at what they [health] have received, which will also be shared with PSEMAS, they are more or less in the same position that they were last year," he said, adding that improving the situation at hospitals and the provision of medicines should have been a priority.

Murorua expressed concern that government was covering up problems instead of solving them, in an apparent reference to the possible downgrade of the Hosea Kutako International Airport (HKIA) outside Windhoek.

"The project cost of the HKIA has doubled, and that tells us that government is aware of what happened. But up until today, you do not hear what was done to address the situation, or who is accountable," he stated.

Debate on the national budget will commence next Thursday, 15 March.


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