Namibia Is on the Right Track

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The Government should be commended for con- sistently embracing pragmatic, down-to-earth economic policies and for its crucial role in supporting a dual economy. Yesterday’s State of the Nation Address by President Hifikepunye Pohamba hammered home the fact that there are no magic solutions, no alternatives to hard work and that we should be prudent at all times by eradicating the abuse of public resources. The wide-ranging address touched on different aspects, namely the health sector, education, agriculture, mining, tourism, policies implemented by the Government over the past 12 months and it also addressed Namibia’s role in the global community. We indeed need to be pragmatic and we should immediately identify factors that could slow down our development, and without hesitation we must apply appropriate remedies. We are also in agreement with him on his notion that the task of nation building is complex, and is even made more so because ours is a nation of competing needs. He again reminded political office-bearers that the mandate is premised on the sacred trust that the electorate has placed in our political leadership. “We must, therefore, take the people of Namibia into confidence and ensure that all our actions on their behalf are carried out honestly in a transparent, accountable and efficient manner. This calls for public officials to ensure that the resources entrusted in their care are utilised for their intended purposes, and their intended purposes only,” he stressed. Transparency and accountability are terms that have eluded many a politician on the African continent where millions continue to wallow in abject poverty because some of those elected into power tend to look down upon the electorate and where some despotic leaders tend to cling to power no matter what the cost in terms of human suffering. But fortunately Namibia is among a few shining examples on the African continent because it steadily continues to fortify an already strong foundation. As the President noted, the establishment of order and stable democratic institutions of governance in our post-conflict society has never been an easy task anywhere, but Namibia should pride itself for being a rare exception to that unfortunate rule. The government has initiated many economic reforms intended to diversify the economy that leans heavily on the primary industries such as mining, fishing and farming. Government is cognisant of the sad fact that massive capital outflows continue to rob our country of much-needed investment and it is aware that it can only stimulate domestic investments by halting capital flight that adversely affects economic growth. It was also encouraging to note that the high service charges and the ruinous interest being levied by our banks, thus placing a heavy burden on those on the lower ranks of our economic scale, has not escaped the attention of the President as he raised the issue. Namibia’s stable macro-economic and fiscal policy environment did not go unnoticed and last year the country joined a small group of countries on the continent that received a credit rating that affirmed its status as a low risk investment location. And another piece of music to progressive ears is the fact that Namibia’s domestic revenue collection is on the increase due to an upswing in economic activities and an improved tax collection strategy, while the country’s share from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) remains one of the major sources of revenue. The President said it is important to note that increased revenues and greater fiscal discipline have “impacted positively on government finances”. With regard to mining the President said, “the year 2005 will go down in history as one of the most productive. ” The production of copper, lead and zinc stabilised in 2005 when compared to the previous year, while the extraction of precious metals such as silver and gold also increased by 23 percent and 10 percent respectively. We should toast to the fact that Namibia is on the right track and continues to make remarkable progress in many arenas, though we are also aware of our negatives such as HIV/Aids, unemployment, corruption and other social evils.