By Desie Heita
The Children’s Parliament kicked off yesterday with deliberations on the most pressing question affecting the generation of today: Making a choice between a Nike sneaker and a Jack Purcell sneaker; between a Nokia N75 and a Sony Ericsson cellphone, as opposed to saving the money.
Head of Marketing Intelligence at First National Bank, Daniel Motinga, noted that most of these choices are not based on needs but rather on the ‘economic’ pressure of brands and fashion.
“In today’s world if you are not wearing branded sneakers or in possession of the latest cellphone then you are not the man or girl about town,” said Motinga.
Motinga, together with the Chief Executive Officer of Stimulus, Monica Kalondo, were the first people to address the junior parliament, dwelling on issues they described as the economic challenges affecting today’s generation.
Since most young people are yet to fully understand the current economic challenges of rising fuel and food prices, Motinga put things in perspective by equating the price of trendy Jack Purcell fad sneakers, which cost about N$360 a pair, to that of petrol.
He wanted to indicate how the price of things affects the allocation of resources, how it affects ordinary people, and how it fits within the global picture.
In 2000, Motinga said, he could buy 134 litres of fuel for N$360. Today he can only buy 44 litres with such an amount of money.
Many things have changed since then. The global economy is in trouble, thanks to the credit crunch in the US market with financial banks going bust as clients default on their mortgage repayments.
“Loans were given to people that could not afford to repay them. People thought good times will last forever,” said Motinga.
The fuel price has gone up from about US$20 per barrel to the current US$120 per barrel. Although these might be happening in the global economy, they do have implications on what happens here in Namibia.
These events have unleashed a chain of events, says Motinga. As a result, banks in Europe and the US were bought over by other banks and in some instances central banks had to intervene to avoid market disruptions. Inflation is skyrocketing as a result. Food prices have gone up. Then there are the implications of the tax payable, and the balance of payments.
“The country also borrows. If we are to build more schools or hospitals we have to get money from somewhere, either from taxes or from borrowing somewhere else,” said Motinga.
The honorable junior members also had questions to ask. These pertained to how Namibia can curb inflation, when Namibia will start producing enough and stop relying on imports, as well as to finance education in schools.
He went on to remind the honorable junior members of the turbulent times of HIV/Aids, unwanted pregnancies, unemployment and economic hardships, that lie ahead.
“You are twice as likely to be unemployed after completing Grade 12. Unemployment is very high. Thus, you have to start looking at possibilities of starting your own business. It will not be business as usual, but business unusual, in preparing you for the challenges that lie ahead. This is not to depress you but to highlight the critical challenges ahead. You need to ponder on how to survive these challenges,” he said.