The success of President Hage Geingob’s ambitious Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) strongly depends on the identification of bottlenecks to remove implementation challenges and accelerating economic development with greater urgency.
Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila expressed these sentiments when she spoke at a Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) breakfast session on the potential impact of the HPP on the economy.
“What makes the HPP quite unique is the strong emphasis on the values of effective governance, accountability and transparency and performance and service delivery,” she told the session, that included the NCCI leadership and leading members of the business community.
As to what the HPP holds for the Namibian economy, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said it provides for a number of reforms on both the expenditure and revenue side of the budget, as well as institutional reforms in the public sector.
“A number of economic transformation initiatives are laid down, which envisage the creation of new jobs in manufacturing and the attraction of new investment projects to create further jobs. The plan fully supports the economic empowerment drive through NEEEF (the New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework) and the Retail Charter,” she said.
Kuugongelwa-Amadhila noted that another priority of the HPP is youth enterprise development, with the aim of establishing 121 youth-owned rural enterprises that are expected to create permanent jobs young people.
Also in the plan, government aims to build 20 000 houses, service 26 000 plots and build 50 000 rural toilets by 2017.
Commenting on the HPP, investment strategist at Capricorn Asset Management Suta Kavari said the youth were the biggest winners in the HPP, with President Geingob pledging to establish an enterprise development scheme that will provide access to finance and information enterprises for rural youth to create income-generating projects.
“Government funds, grants and schemes targeted at the youth will be ring-fenced under the Youth Enterprise Development Fund to focus on entrepreneurial youth start-ups with innovative funding mechanisms, such as venture capital and collateral-free lending,” Kavari noted.
To fund the Harambee plan, Geingob proposed widening the tax base and including the informal sector, as well as investigating the establishment of a State lottery.
However, Kavari cautioned: “The establishment of a State lottery to supplement State revenue and ring-fence income for poverty eradication and social developmental programmes, which was alluded to, should be approached with caution. A lottery is essentially another form of gambling. It is a regressive tax on the poor. The poor are the most avid buyers of lottery tickets, and a lottery ticket costs disproportionately more to a poor person than it does a rich person.”
Continuing her presentation on the HPP, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila emphasised that social progression is the cornerstone of the HPP. It is comprised of four sub-pillars, namely elimination of hunger and poverty; fast-tracking urban land service delivery and housing; improving sanitary conditions; reducing infant and maternal mortality; and accelerating vocational and technical skills.
The HPP also contains a chapter dealing specifically with the execution of the plan, monitoring and reporting.
“This is important, since we will focus not only on whether something was done, but more so on the impact of all actions and whether it has contributed towards the overall effectiveness of government. One requirement is to cascade the Harambee Plan down into annual plans and performance agreements. All offices, ministries and agencies are currently busy with this exercise,” Kuugongelwa-Amadhila explained.
She issued a call for a stronger partnership between government, the private sector and civil society to achieve the goals of the HPP: “I therefore call on the Chamber [of Commerce] and its members to fully back government in the implementation and to bring your side in supporting all five pillars of the Namibian House.”