What To Expect in The Budget

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By Catherine Sasman WINDHOEK As Finance Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila prepares to table the Appropriation Bill containing the projected revenue and expenditure for 2007/2008, New Era spoke to experts and others on what to expect. “This year’s budget should be a radical departure from previous ones,” commented community activist and former CoD MP, Rosa Namises, when approached yesterday. “I hope it will not disappoint me. It should reflect key concerns such as education and health. We need to take control of those areas, and the budget should reflect that. I also hope it will make a big U-turn with regards to things such as housing, the high unemployment rate and the development of townships or high-density areas. We need quality services to justify government institutions’ overspending yearly,” stressed Namises, adding, “The Minister of Finance should see to it that all outstanding monies – those unaccounted for such as the ODC and Avid millions and others – be brought back to the country to serve the nation.” Said a domestic worker, who prefers anonymity, when asked for a comment: “There are so many poor people in this country. More jobs should be created and the budget must see to that.” Last year’s ‘pro-poor, pro-growth’ budget showed a surplus of N$114ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ million for the first time since Independence, and experts are in agreement that this can be expected this year. This, said economist, Martin Mwinga, would come mainly from the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) windfall that swelled Government’s kitty to as much as 30% of the revenue received. The SACU revenue pool for this year is expected to amount to N$4,5ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ billion. “We are likely to see a large percentage of the revenue coming from SACU again,” concurred Albie Botha from PriceWaterhouseCoopers. “That will be a confirmation of the extent to which we are dependent on SACU revenues. I would like to see if the improved tax collection has increased, which will make us less dependent on SACU,” he said in anticipation. Head of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), Daniel Motinga, also cautioned against an over-dependence on the SACU revenue, and predicts that this is not likely to repeat itself. “It is perhaps the last time that we will experience a SACU windfall.” Botha expects to see a reduction of individual taxes, and hopes for a decrease in corporate taxes as well. “That should take pressure off salaries,” commented Botha. Mwinga is of the opinion that corporate taxing will remain unchanged. “Because of the surplus we have experienced last year, we might see a scenario where the taxable income bracket moves from N$24ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 to N$30ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000, which will give a break to lower income groups. It is, however, important for Government to broaden its tax base by minimizing tax evasion, particularly by some rich folks. But for the most part, I don’t think this year’s budget will be much different from other years.” Government boosted its spending over the last financial year, and it is anticipated that it will cut back during this year. It has also allocated more resources to welfare programmes, notably the increase in State pensions.