Unless drastic measures are taken immediately to secure the right regulatory and policy environment, the chances of growth and an upswing of the economy after the lockdown are very remote. In this regard, a job is the most valuable commodity, as every job that puts food on the table, is an essential job. Protecting jobs and creating jobs have now become equally important.
Bärbel Kirchner, account director of Team Namibia says: "It is now critical that we look at ways to create jobs. We applaud the government's efforts to cushion the impact of Covid-19 through fiscal and monetary measures, and also the support Namibia is given by its global partners.
"However, our economy has come to a standstill and has been impacted not only by our own measures to contain the virus but also due to the fact that we are an integral part of the global community. As this impact of the corona virus is largely unpredictable, these measures were necessary to protect our Namibian people. However, we now need to look beyond and start preparing for what comes after lockdown and Covid-19."
"As Namibians we can proudly say that joint efforts by the private sector and the government has led to ensure ongoing supply of essential goods and services. The strong collaborative efforts have ensured that our first response to the crisis was efficiently executed. We now need to urgently focus on economic recovery and creating the right conditions to ensure that we can maintain, and especially create new jobs."
Team Namibia stated that for businesses to become economically active, it is vital that the behavioural changes such as social distancing, sanitation of hands, and, if possible, the wearing of masks continue to be strongly supported by the authorities and all employers. Ongoing efforts need to continue to ensure the adequate production of sanitisers and for the government to secure a sufficient number of testing kits.
"However, it is now critical that the next step of proactive measures includes that the private sector is supported to protect jobs and to create new jobs. This can be achieved through a multi-pronged approach.
"Team Namibia is all about supporting local businesses to gain greater local, regional and international market share. The current crisis highlights the importance of reducing one's dependencies on international supply and value chains.
"We know that necessity is the mother of invention and that in every threat lies an opportunity. We now need full support for our local businesses so that they can deliver more competitively and replace imported goods and services. We need to strengthen our own capacities. Now is the best opportunity to achieve that, provided the right decisions are taken," said Kirchner.
"In the current environment, it is important that Namibians buy local products. This includes the institutional buyers, especially the government. Procurement legislation needs to be further supported with additional regulations and incentives to give local businesses a chance to compete against international powerhouses. This can either be done by considering preferences or quotas for local businesses.
"Any procurement legislation also needs to take cognisance of the impact of a weakening Namibia Dollar (and South African Rand) and the continuous exchange rate fluctuations, which makes effective and competitive bidding very difficult if not impossible, as the responsibility of covering the impact of exchange rate fluctuations lie with the bidding company. This is particularly relevant in the construction sector, in manufacturing and especially in the information technology industry," Kirchner pointed out.
Now more than ever, a conducive environment for foreign investment must be promoted. In this regard, Team Namibia is of the opinion that the Namibian Investment Promotion Act is damaging the Namibian investment profile and must be repealed. Similarly, the NEEEF bill is scaring away investors. This bill must be put on hold until there are definite signs of prolonged economic recovery.