Forum Drafts Jobs Bill

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK The Task Force Committee of the High Level Employment Creation Forum has come up with a bill, which will provide the legal framework for stakeholders to create employment in the country. The committee was selected last year during the High Level Employment Creation Forum which brought together government ministers and officials, politicians, parastatals, researchers and members of the academia to investigate ways to create jobs for thousands of Namibians that are unemployed. The forum, a brainchild of Prime Minister Nahas Angula, looked into the establishment of a framework in the form of an Employment Creation Commission to coordinate and oversee the issues of employment creation. Employment Equity Commissioner Vilbard Usiku, who is a member of the task force, told New Era the committee had come up with a draft bill which had proposed the name of the framework to be Commission for Employment Creation. According to Usiku, the draft bill was presented to the Cabinet Retreat last year to deliberate on it before being tabled before Cabinet. “We are now awaiting a response from Cabinet,” Usiku said, adding that the task force was ready to go into action if so instructed. The government has identified job creation as one of its priorities judging by the National Development Plans 1 and 2, which aim to create tens of thousands of jobs in the subsistence, formal as well as informal sectors. According to the Bank of Namibia’s Annual Report 2004, unemployment has been rising over the past years. It now stands at 34 percent. Among the causes of unemployment, noted the report, is the structure of the economy, as the sectors in which the economy holds a production advantage to support growth, such as mining and fishing, are capital intensive by nature. This means that only a small proportion of the labour force can be employed. The other causes include lack of proper training and skills, climatic factors and poor access to finance. A background paper for employment creation by the Namibia Economic Policy and Research Unit (Nepru) notes that unlike other countries where unemployment is a lack of job opportunities, Namibia has a surplus of unskilled labour and shortage of skills. Consequences of unemployment, the report adds, include poverty and income inequality. Statistics indicate that out of a population of 1.8 million, over 600 000 people, who include the economically inactive as well as active populations, are dependent on others for food.