By Petronella Sibeene
Chinese assistance to Namibia continues with the signing of two multi-million-dollar agreements between Ambassador Ren Xiaoping and Minister of Finance, Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila on Friday.
China will provide N$301 million for Namibia to purchase modern scanning machines for the Customs and Excise department and N$37 million for setting up an efficient Record and Management System for the Government.
The Finance Minister said the procurement of the scanning machines would ensure that Namibia does not become a transit route for illicit goods.
“It will ensure that Namibia screens goods that come in and out of the country,” she said.
The Minister added that with increasing terrorism around the world, international standards demand that a country strengthens its screening capacity at all entry points. With the cash injection Namibia will therefore be able to meet such standards.
Not all people entering Namibia declare their goods. Installing scanning machines at all border posts will therefore not only help boost revenue collection but also combat cross-border crime.
Amadhila warned those using loopholes in the current screening system that the country would soon strengthen its capacity to scrutinise goods and people coming in and out of Namibia.
In the same vein, the Minister said the Government would embark on a Record and Management project that will enable it to upgrade its documentation system, currently in a mess.
The two loans will be subsidised by two
percent less interest and the Customs and Excise project loan has a three-year grace period, while the Record and Management loan has a grace period of five years.
Both loans are payable in 20 years.
The agreements are part of the pledges made by the President of China, Hu Jintao, during his visit to Namibia early this year.
China pledged N$933 million (RMB 1 billion) in concessionary loans and US$100 million in preferential export buyers’ credit. About N$28 million (RMB 30 million) in grants and another N$28 million (RMB 30 million) in interest-free loans were also pledged during Jintao’s visit.
The Chinese President said China would also help build two rural schools and one hospital.
Because Namibia is among China’s tourist destinations, some of the money would go towards boosting its market share of the rapidly expanding Chinese tourism industry, particularly group tours.
In an earlier interview, former Chinese Ambassador Liang Yinzhu called on the Namibian Government to identify projects that would benefit from the grants and loans pledged by the Chinese President.
Yinzhu said China would help promote economic and trade cooperation between the two countries to a broader scope and higher standard.
The Finance Minister said the two identified projects form part of the many projects the Government will implement through China’s assistance and more projects are likely to be implemented next year.
“The signing of this framework agreement demonstrates the long-term relations between the two countries,” said the Chinese Ambassador.
She said it forms part of the fruitful deliberations undertaken during the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation held last year.
The Summit reached common ground on major international political and economic issues, especially on the reform of the United Nations and the maintenance of international peace and security.
Namibian and Chinese cooperation has been growing in the fields of politics, economics, education, public health and culture.