NKURENKURU – The Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) has called on the Treasury to introduce the Basic Income Grant (BIG) in the next financial year’s national budget, dismissing government concerns that BIG would increase dependency in society and encourage laziness.
SPYL secretary for labour Paulus Mbangu, who held a press conference on Monday at Kahenge just outside the town of Nkurenkuru, Kavango West, said BIG is one of the many strategies available to government for poverty alleviation.
“The government must not turn a blind eye to the issue. I think this is one of the strategies to alleviate poverty and government must make sure it is implemented in the coming financial year, depending on the capacity of the economy or what the government can deliver. Many countries in the world have unemployment allowances,” he said.
Mbangu’s ideas on BIG clash with those of President Hifikepunye Pohamba, who during this year’s state of the nation address in parliament, during a question and answer session, said “it does not make sense to dish out money to people for doing nothing.”
Pohamba who at the time was responding to a question on BIG by All People Party’s president Ignatius Shixwameni, added: “To dish out money to people organised to do something, people who are working, that is better. It is not good to encourage people not to work. People must work,” citing an example of clearing land for cultivation as one of the types of work that could be performed in exchange for money.
Mbangu nevertheless said introducing BIG would “tackle poverty and free our people from its debilitating and dehumanising effects thus lessening the worker’s pressure.” He added that BIG “has been on the youth league’s agenda for long, we have been speaking about it”.
Mbangu also asked for a speedy enactment of a regulation for the housing market, to rein in house prices.
“Skyrocketing house prices must be arrested forthwith. We call on parliament to move with the speed of lightning to enact a law that regulates house prices on the one hand and land prices in local authorities in particular,” said Mbangu.
He said young workers deserve affordable houses, unlike the houses sold these days that are hard for people especially youths to afford, adding that acquiring land is another issue as it is also unaffordable.
“We urge government to adopt pro-poor and inclusive development strategies as well as structural reforms so that the macroeconomic environment can be improved. In this regard, a proactive role of the state is needed to integrate the non-formal economy and ‘endogenize’ the growth process in a manner that allows the majority of the labour force to be in productive activities,” he said.