Unequal income fuels BIG calls – Ngurare

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WINDHOEK — The Swapo Youth League (SPYL) secretary, Dr Elijah Ngurare, says if every Namibian stood to benefit from the economic wealth of the country equitably there would be no need for calls for subventions such as the Basic Income Grant (BIG).

However, if only a few monopolise the wealth of the country for their own selfish interests, the voices of the poor would become louder and louder.
Ngurare was responding to questions regarding the stance of the SPYL on BIG as many individuals in civil society, political parties and churches have called for the implementation of such a welfare intervention to help those without regular income.
The league’s secretary for labour, Paulus Mbangu, recently called on Treasury to introduce BIG and refuted the government’s fears that such a programme would increase laziness and dependency on the state.
Mbangu reportedly said that introducing BIG would tackle poverty and free people from debilitating and dehumanising circumstances.
Ngurare would not say whether the youth league per se officially supported BIG or not, but added that “the level of poverty in the informal settlements and rural areas is beyond debate”.
“We are heartened that our Swapo Party presidential candidate Cde Dr Hage Geingob declared war on poverty with a suggestion to consider a stand-alone Ministry on Poverty Eradication,” said Ngurare.
Geingob is said to have made the remark at a Swapo star rally at Khorixas on Sunday in the run-up to the general elections in November.
“We support him completely,” said Ngurare, adding that such a ministry would incorporate the existing food/cash-for-work programmes to enable every poor Namibian a predictable income or support as contemplated by the proponents of BIG.
Geingob also expressed his support for BIG in 2012 during campaigns for the Swapo vice-presidency, but the purported initiative did not feature anywhere in the 2014 Swapo election manifesto.
Proponents of BIG have called on government to come up with better alternatives to alleviate poverty or introduce BIG, which was first introduced to Omitara’s Otjivero community as a pilot project.
Residents received an allowance of between N$80 and N$100 per person.
Government has snubbed BIG since its introduction in 2009.
The DTA also threw its weight behind BIG as a national poverty strategy that would assist towards reducing hardships for the most destitute.
The party promised to identify the 100 most backward constituencies and towns and bring them on par with other areas through prioritised and integrated development.

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