Unemployed black people are the ones making the biggest noise against the proposed solidarity tax, while the very rich Namibians do not want government to touch their wealth, arguing that they have worked hard for it.
This is according to President Hage Geingob, who made the observation on Friday evening when he spoke as the guest of honour at the opening of the Swakopmund Strand Hotel.
“Namibians are impatient. They want to know how and when we will address poverty. When we announce that we are trying to do so through tax, they make noise. It’s unemployed black people who say ‘not our tax money’. How do you have tax money if you are unemployed? The rich ones again say they have worked hard for their money and we should not touch it. We don’t have to touch it now, but it will be touched if the ones who do not have [anything] rise up, ” Geingob said.
The president then encouraged Namibians to embrace the notion of a solidarity tax, saying that it would not be applicable to all, as suggested by some, but be directed at the most affluent members of society.
Geingob also said that everyone likes the idea of holding hands, but are not keen on sharing with their fellow Namibians who are still suffering.
“Look how beautiful we blend tonight, but there are others that did not have a decent meal today. But if we can start to hold hands and share the little we have then we can make a difference. We will not make everyone a millionaire but we can at least ensure that everyone has one good meal every day and our children go to school. Let’s contribute to that as this will allow us to maintain our peace,” said the president.
Geingob noted that due to legacy and structural issues, significant income is still concentrated in the hands of a very few. He explained that the funds collected through the tax would be ring-fenced to ensure that it is utilised for poverty eradication activities only.
He added that several experts have warned Namibia not to be reckless in the pursuit of economic transformation.
“Let me reassure all of you that we have been very careful in formulating these policies. It is best to wait until our plans unfold before adopting any alarmist responses. Currently our debt stock stands at 25 to 30 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Experts agree that it is safe to take it up to 46 percent, however 35 percent is our ceiling and we don’t intend to go beyond that,” the president explained.