By Reagan Malumo
Economist and Chief Executive Officer for RMB Asset Management Company, Martin Mwinga, has called on the Caprivi Regional Council to initiate the establishment of an independent regional economic council to help with project identification, screening, implementation and regional economic planning.
Mwinga made the suggestion at a breakfast meeting of the 2008/9 annual national budget review organised by the First National Bank at Katima Mulilo over the weekend.
Mwinga said the Caprivi economic council should comprise of professionals from mainly the private sector, non-governmental organisations and a few individuals from the public sector. It must be formed as per NDP 3 guidelines to advice and assist the regional council on the type and quality of developmental project to be implemented in the region. He expressed disappointment over the poor quality of development projects, which the Caprivi Region submitted to the NDP steering committee last year compared to the Kavango Region. The submission depicted a lack of skills on the part of planners involved.
“The fact that a huge sum of money is always returned to the central government is a true reflection of the lack of economically sharp-minded planners to keep the region on its feet,” said Mwinga.
Apart from the regional economic council, Mwinga suggested that the Caprivi Regional Council improve the quantity and quality of projects submitted and avoid submitting same projects every year as well as improve project implementation by strengthening monitoring mechanisms.
He encouraged the council to involve local communities and tribal authorities in the budget cycle, as well as improve communication between businesses and the Government so as to determine the business needs of the region.
Mwinga pointed out that it would not make sense for the region to blame the Government on the low pace of development in the region as well as on the small chunk of the annual budget allocated to the region because this is determined by the quality of projects suggested for the region as well as the capability of the regional council to economically utilise the entire capital allocated to the region every year.
He further urged leaders of the region to stop concentrating on political in-fights but rather focus on productivity, thereby achieve economic development.
Meanwhile, Caprivi received the second lowest vote of N$104 million of the 2008/9 annual budget allocations in the country while the Khomas Region received the highest allocation, followed by the Kavango Region with an allocation of N$434 million. He said it is reasonable for the Khomas Region to be given the highest allocation because it is the region that has a lot of investors and that it hosts the capital city, which requires a huge capital outlay for efficient management.
He expressed satisfaction over efforts by the Kavango Regional Council to lure more investors and identify viable and quality economic projects for the region. It is in response to this that the Government decided to allocate high subsides to the region.
From the amount allocated to the Caprivi Region, N$24 million goes towards the Katima Mulilo waterfront project, N$10.5 million for the construction of the Ngoma-Muyako Road, while N$10.3 million is for HIV/Aids mitigation in the region and N$10.1 million goes towards the construction and upgrading of primary health clinics.
About N$10 million goes towards the upgrading of the Katima Mulilo Hospital and N$7.8 million for the construction of the Kongola-Zambia border. The Katima Mulilo Town Council was allocated N$5.2 million to upgrade its water supply system, while N$4 million is reserved for the construction of water, sewerage and roads networks at Bukalo, which is soon to be proclaimed a second town in the Caprivi Region.
In order to improve the quality of education in the region, the Government has allocated N$2.5 million towards the renovation of the Caprivi College of Education, N$1.3 million towards the construction of the Zambezi Vocational Training Centre and N$1.4 million for the upgrading of educational facilities in the region.
Other projects which received budget allocations include construction of primary health care clinics (N$3.9 million), Katima Mulilo Multi-Purpose Centre (N$3.6 million), grain storage facilities (N$3.2 million), rural electrification (N$2.8 million), water resource management implementation at basin level (N$2.5 million), construction of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources office (N$2 million), construction of the Katima Mulilo-Kopano quarantine (N$1.3 million), State House expansion (N$2.2 million), construction of Singalamwe border post (N$1 million), community-based tourism development (N$1.3 million), 2008/9 Namibia household income and expenditure survey (N$1.3 million), aquaculture development project (N$1.3 million), construction of the air control tower at Katima Mulilo (N$1.2 million), upgrading of the NBC Studio (N$1 million), upgrading of police stations (N$1 million), community-based management (N$1 million), small and medium enterprise development (N$800??????’??