… Experts Plead with President
By Kuvee Kangueehi
Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Economics at the University of Namibia (Unam), Dr Omu Kakujaha-Matundu, believes the State of the Nation address that President Hifikepunye Pohamba is expected to deliver today will be most difficult for the Head of State.
The economist said all economic fundamentals are against Namibia and with unemployment standing at 37 percent the country faces a difficult economic situation.
He said some of the major economic factors affecting the Namibian economy negatively are the global economic slowdown, high inflation rate which currently stands at 8,3 percent, interest rate which stands at 14 percent and high fuel prices.
He added that combined with the looming electricity shortage in the entire southern African region and the floods in the northern parts of Namibia, the economic picture is really gloomy.
Kakujaha-Matundu made these observations on Tuesday morning at a media conference where various experts from Unam gave their analysis on key issues the Head of State was expected to address when he delivers the State of the Nation address this afternoon.
The economist added that the biggest challenge for Pohamba is to inform the Namibian nation how the country is going to address these serious problems.
“The Government must give a data-driven solution to these problems and the solution should be based on a research the Government has undertaken and not a gut-feeling solution.”
Kakujaha-Matundu said with the high interest rates, people are starting to lose their houses as they simply cannot afford them and the Government must provide relief for home owners before the situation turns into a crisis.
He added that farmers with debts at Agribank are also facing a serious crisis, as interest rates are high while they struggled with drought end of last year.
The economist noted that food prices have increased and low-income earners can simply not afford food, while the Electricity Control Broad is trying to pass high electricity prices onto consumers.
He noted that with the economy slowing down, people are likely to lose their jobs, thus the President should tell the people what his Government is doing.
He added that the President needs to inform farmers what is happening with Economic Partnership Agreements. If there are sticky points, the public must be informed about them.
He said the President should use the State of the Nation address to project the future of the country and as a platform to sell Vision 2030 to the nation.
He concluded that the President should not evade questions from parliamentarians by inviting them to State House but should answer them on the spot because the parliamentarians represent the people.
At the same occasion, Zach Kazapua the Pro-vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance and an expert on education said the big issue the president is expected to address is the Education and Training Sector Improvement Programme.
Kazapua said education in the country is a serious problem especially grades 10 and 12 and the President must allocate funds for research to determine what contributes to the high failure rates in the two grades.
He noted that while it is a welcome move to pump more money into education, it is critical to determine the factors that contribute to the problem.
The pro-vice chancellor said the common factor in schools performing well is that the schools are well-managed and there is better discipline.
He noted that these two factors can be attributed to better-qualified teachers and if research money is allocated to Unam, proper diagnoses can be made.