Law amended to empower SMEs

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The Minister of Trade and Industry Calle Schlettwein on his visit to Erongo Region.

By Eveline de Klerk

SWAKOPMUND – Government has amended parts of the Tender Board regulations so that local producers and suppliers are given preference when tenderers source goods.

This was revealed by Trade and Industry Minister Calle Schlettwein during his recent visit to the coast.

Schlettwein said the procurement policy that offers preference for locally produced goods should be strengthened to benefit Namibians.

According to Schlettwein, government realised such preferential treatment could create a significant market for local producers. 

“Therefore, the government, through the Ministry of Finance, has introduced amendments to the Tender Board Act to ensure that where public funds are used, products from Namibian producers and suppliers should be given preference,” the minister said. 

He said in order for this measure to work optimally however, local companies need to invest in developing the capacity to produce high-quality goods and services that will result in value for money for government and consumers.

“It is also important that these companies are truly Namibian entities and the financial and employment benefits accrue to Namibians. I want to see more and more wholesalers and retailers in Namibia buying, stocking and distributing Namibian made goods,” said Schlettwein.

“The same call goes out to all of us – consumers, be it central government, regional and local authorities, parastatals or the general public, to make growth at home a reality by consuming more of the goods and services that are produced by companies that are investing in our economy and providing jobs to our people,” he urged. He said the Ministry of Trade and Industry is currently rolling out the implementation of the Industrial Upgrading and Modernization Programme targeting existing and new value chains, manufacturing operations and opportunities.

“We shall focus our support on small and medium sized industries. We are in the process of reviewing the existing SME policy and the NCCI will be part of the team to guide and provide inputs into the review.  In order to identify new areas of investment and value chain development, we want to focus our feasibility studies on profiling opportunities for new resource-based industries and value addition. 

“The services sector especially tourism, transport and logistics offer great investment opportunities and prospects for further development and employment creation, but so do the agricultural and manufacturing sectors,” he said. He added that in order to reduce the cost and time it takes to secure serviced industrial land and factory space in most parts of the country, they  have decided to embark on a pro-active approach to the procurement and development of land for business purposes as well as the construction of multi-purpose and customer-built industrial factory premises that will be leased to investors at economic rates.

“We will continuously pursue favourable trade arrangements and provide financial and logistical support to local companies, especially SMEs to take part in trade fairs and related events for them to showcase their products and explore supply and sourcing opportunities,” he said.

“The other intervention that we have adopted to boost export and trade across borders is the construction of warehousing and trade centres in selected foreign markets in the region (Angola, DRC and Republic of Congo) with the aim of facilitating entry and sale of Namibian products in those markets,” stressed Schlettwein. 

“Undoubtedly, our ability to effectively execute our assigned mandate will require an alignment of our organizational structure, functions and delivery capacity,” stated the minister.

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