By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK Sound governance, the economy and quality public service delivery are some of the core issues President Hifikepunye Pohamba addressed on Thursday in his State of the Nation speech in the National Assembly. The Founding President of the Nation, former President Sam Nujoma, also attended the occasion in the chambers, whilst many invited guests filled the public galleries. “We have laid a strong foundation and made remarkable progress in the face of many challenges over the past 16 years. It is that strong foundation that we continued to build in order to achieve our national objectives,” said President Pohamba. In his view the country’s institutional capacities are attaining new levels of maturity, necessary to sustain a democratic culture of governance. “Of necessity these achievements should open our eyes to new possibilities of enhancing good governance and promoting the values of accountability, transparency, efficiency and effectiveness in all what we do and say. 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,” Pohamba emphasised. “I believe that the promotion of ethics must continue as a way of life and be at the centre of our homes, our communities, our schools and our workplaces. On its part the government will continue to implement policies aimed at rooting out corruption and the vices of dishonesty and misappropriation of public assets and resources,” he assured the House. According to Pohamba, the introduction of the Namibian Institute of Public Administration and Management by his Cabinet is one option to ensure accountable service delivery. “Already new technologies are being used to speed up the processing and issuing of national documents at the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration. Likewise NamPost has introduced smart card technology enabling Namibians to access affordable financial services in different parts of the country including remote areas,” the President said proudly. The performance of the economy is crucial for his administration’s efforts to attain the national development objectives. “For all intents and purposes we can only create wealth for our people if our economy performs and generates high levels of growth and output. However, the dual nature of our economy and the high levels of inequality in the country cast a dark shadow on our efforts to eradicate poverty and reduce unemployment. Thus, economic reform policies will continue to focus on diversifying the economy in order to reduce reliance on the primary sector,” he said. He further announced that in the economy capital outflows have robbed the country of much needed investments and have affected the government’s drive to accumulate foreign currency reserves. “High service charges and interest rates levied by banks and micro-lenders suppress economic activities and place a heavy burden on lower income groups in our society. We encourage more transparency and competition in our financial sector in order to make services more affordable,” asserted the Head of State, who believes that improved tax collection must be supported by measures to curb tax evasion and increase compliance. “The message to those who evade tax is loud and clear, comply or face the consequences. The government is determined to close loopholes by tightening our tax laws. This will go hand in hand with improved expenditure control through monitoring and auditing of the State Revenue Fund, local authorities, boards, statutory bodies and parastatals,” the President said to supportive applause from the House.
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