President Hage Geingob yesterday said he has ordered a review of the Kudu gas-to-power project. During an interactive town hall meeting at the Khomas Regional Council with members of the Windhoek business community, Geingob said government was working on less expensive options to provide reliable electricity for the country.
He was responding to concerns raised by the business community through the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) about the security of electricity supply, which is crucial for industries to thrive, and to attract investment.
The NCCI CEO Tarah Shaanika expressed the same concern about the availability of water, particularly for industrial use.
“There is talk about bringing water from one of the perennial rivers and there are studies being conducted on the use of water from the massive underground aquifer discovered in northern Namibia. Desalination is another option if we are stuck, but I must admit that Namibians are wasteful with water,” responded Geingob.
“Government is looking at energy and water from different perspectives. We are investigating short-term and long-term solutions. However, it should be noted that there are those who have not started saving either water or electricity,” added Dr John Steytler, economic advisor to the President.
Additional concerns raised by the NCCI included funding for small businesses, servicing of industrial and commercial land, the efficiency and coordination of the public service, delays in value added tax refunds and state participation in commercial activities.
Shaanika said that a serious concern was the country’s ailing rail infrastructure and its dwindling capacity. “The public sector has expressed its willingness to assist with the upgrading of the rail infrastructure, for Namibia to become a logistics hub in SADC,” added Shaanika.
In response the Minister of Works and Transport, Apheus !Naruseb, said that government has put aside about N$4 billion in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) to address railway infrastructure and TransNamib’s effectiveness. Steytler said that N$7 billion to N$10 billion is required to upgrade the country’s rail infrastructure.
Regarding the efficiency of the public service, Geingob said that his administration wants to “name and shame” ministries that do not pay their bills on time. “It’s criminal to take too long to pay your bills.”
Tom Alweendo, the Minister in Charge of the National Planning Commission, said that the Ministry of Finance has established a large tax office specifically to streamline the tax process of businesses. “It’s not right for government to owe companies money for six months,” said Alweendo.
During the interactive session with Geingob, his advisors and top government officials, some members of the business community called for a complete overhaul of the state’s payment system and for the abolishment of tender exemptions.