Namibia: Environment Fund Rakes in Taxes

NAMIBIA'S Environmental Investment Fund (EIF) has to date received approximately N$31 million worth of environmental taxes from the Ministry of Finance.

This was revealed by minister of environment Pohamba Shifeta last week during the inauguration ceremony of the fund's new board of directors.

"As the minister responsible for ensuring the protection of the environment, it is pleasing for me that environmental taxes on harmful products have been introduced in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance," Shifeta said.

He said the EIF now receives 30% of all environmental taxes on harmful products such as incandescent bulbs, tyres and carbon emissions. It also received an environmental tax from plastic bags, lubricant oils and batteries due to the new taxes imposed on those items last year.

Shifeta said moving forward, the fund will put a strategic focus on environmental taxes.

"[This is] to ensure that the EIF is adequately capitalised so that it can plan and execute its projects efficiently and effectively. This should also allow the EIF to expand its portfolio of financial products beyond grants and concessional lending," he said.

The EIF was established in 2011 as per the Environmental Investment Fund Act of 2001 and is aimed at mobilising funding for projects which promote sustainable use and management of the environment and natural resources, among others.

Shifeta said since gaining its accreditation to the Green Climate Fund in 2015, the fund has mobilised approximately N$560 million in grants to four climate change adaptation intervention projects.

"In spite of the difficult economic and financial climate, the EIF has been highly successful in mobilising resources through both international and domestic sources," he said.

"The EIF has been instrumental in the establishment of a credit facility known as the Sustainable Utilisation of Natural Resources and Energy Financing (Sunref) programme," he said.

The minister said this facility is worth approximately N$800 million and is supported by the French Development Agency.

"It is being implemented through three commercial banks to support entrepreneurs in the areas of renewable energy, sustainable agriculture and tourism development, with the EIF providing technical support," he said.

The new board, which comprises five members who will serve for a tenure of three years, is tasked with maintaining these successes.

The new board members are Titus Ndovu as chairperson and Karen Knot as deputy chairperson, both of whom have served on the board before, as well as Desire Theunissen, Kisco Sinvual and Olavi Hamutumwa - all of whom are new to the board.

Outgoing chairperson Teofilus Nghitila reminded the new board that the task ahead of them is not an easy one, but with their expertise and experience the environment ministry believes they can take the institution to higher levels.

Incoming chairperson Titus Ndovu said he is honoured to serve as the chairperson of the fund as he has seen it grow exponentially over the years. He noted the fund which started with N$25 million now manages a portfolio of more than N$1,3 billion.

"Moving from an initial one staff member to about 56 staff members [and] building strong governance, mature processes and fiduciary systems that are comparable to global leading entities as confirmed by our accreditation to the Green Climate Fund and many more.

"These are extremely strong foundations for us to move the fund to higher levels. Therefore, our role as a board is more of a strategy-making organ that will advance the objectives of the fund," he said.

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