By Anna Shilongo
Although Namibia is classified as a lower middle-income country, it still has one of the most unequal distributions of income and wealth in the world, according to the Director General of the National Planning Commission (NPC), Helmut Angula.
Speaking at a signing ceremony between the Namibian and Finnish governments last week, Angula said the standard of living for the bulk of Namibians is more or less similar to that of those in other least developed countries.
He said the country’s Gini-Coefficient stands at 0.66, compared to a 0.43 average of all Middle Income Countries.
“However, redressing these tremendous inequalities and improving the status of the large majority of the population in a sustainable and orderly manner will only be feasible in the medium to long-term and will require substantial resources,” stressed Angula.
He said Namibia faces a number of economic challenges, such as poverty, HIV/AIDS, inadequate economic growth, high levels of unemployment, low levels of industrialisation and energy shortages, which require additional resources.
Data from the Namibian households income and expenditure survey of 2003/2004 shows that 28% of Namibian households are still relatively poor and 4% extremely poor, while the unemployment rate is estimated at 34%.
“These challenges place an enormous strain on both the development of our economy and our efforts to reduce poverty,” said the Director General.
To address these challenges, Angula said, the Government has put in place various extensive policy frameworks, such as the third National Development Plan covering the period 2007/2008-2012/ 2013, which specifies Namibia’s overall development goals and programmes.
“The broad thrusts and goals of NDP3 are derived from vision 2030, the 2000 Swapo Party Manifesto, directives from the November 2005 Cabinet re-treat, the Millennium declaration including the MDG’s and the lessons learnt from imple-menting the NDP2,” he said.
The overall theme of the NPP3 – Accelerating Economic Growth and Deepening Rural Development – is based on this direction.
This Development plan along with vision 2030, the internationally agreed millennium development goals, the decentralisation policy and the public sector investment programmes aims to promote sustained economic growth, employment creation, reduction in income inequality and reduction in poverty.
Through the launch of the third Medium term plan on HIV/AIDS covering a five-year period (2004-2009), the government and its development partners aim at creating a broad national response to combat HIV/AIDS, said Angula.