By Charles Tjatindi
The just-ended Cabinet retreat has tasked the Office of the Prime Minister to investigate appropriate intervention measures that would mitigate the impact of rising fuel and food prices.
The Office of the Prime Minister, through an ad-hoc committee that has been set up for the purpose, will report back to Cabinet and pass recommendations. In addition, line ministries have been tasked with identifying potential projects for job creation and economic growth for immediate implementation.
The retreat underlined that prospects for increased economic growth and sustainable development were not bright as the country faces a combination of adverse factors such as high interest rates, high food prices and the unprecedented high and rising prices of petroleum products.
The retreat also identified major constraints to realising growth opportunities and came up with milestones to achieve the desired outcomes in the areas of health; housing and sanitation; education and training, manufacturing for wealth creation and employment. It is estimated that 70 percent of Namibian households cannot afford conventional housing, with more than 54 percent of households without access to toilet facilities, contrary to the belief that access to basic sanitation is a crucial human development goal.
The 2008 Cabinet retreat, which was convened here, came to an end on Wednesday after three days of intense discussion and analysis. The retreat was designed to help the Government take stock of the pace and implementation of both Cabinet decisions and overall Government projects. It was also held to review the implementation of the resolutions of the 2005 retreat.
Briefing the media on the recommendations of the retreat, the Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Joel Kaapanda, said the retreat critically reviewed the progress made on the third instalment of the country’s National Development Programme, the NDP3. Kaapanda noted that this year’s Cabinet retreat also looked at various modalities to fast-track the eradication of poverty and promote economic growth and sustainable development.
This year’s retreat, according to the information minister, further discussed and made concrete and far-reaching recommendations on new challenges facing the nation, as per the theme of the Cabinet retreat, ‘Economic Growth, Employment and Wealth Creation’. Other areas that featured prominently on the retreat’s programme include land reform and rural development, financing and communication technology, skills development, small and medium enterprises promotion and micro-credit. The meeting noted with great concern the impact of the latter on the advancement of small and medium enterprises, as financial institutions have stringent requirements as pre-requisites to granting micro-credit.
Kaapanda told the media that a full report on all decisions and recommendations taken at the retreat will be finalised soon and the content will be made public.
“I just mentioned the areas on which resolutions were taken during retreat. We will revert back to you with a comprehensive report on the retreat in the near future, as the production team is still busy at work to finalise the Cabinet retreat document to be approved by Cabinet soon,” he said.
Ministers and their deputies, regional governors and councillors, permanent secretaries, directors and leaders of government agencies attended the retreat. The Governor of the country’s central Bank, Tom Alweendo, and the Chairperson of the Council of Traditional Leaders, Kauluma Elifas, also attended.
The last Cabinet retreat was held in Swakopmund in 2005.