Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila yesterday said she would ask government and the public for yet another extension for further input and fine-tuning of the proposed New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework (NEEEF) law.
This would be at least the third time such extension would be made, but Kuugongelwa-Amadhila maintains there is a strong need to include the views of all stakeholders in order to make the final piece of legislation effective and better understood.
The request for an extended deadline, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila explained, came from the Law Reform Development Commission (LRDC), which is tasked with crafting and fine-tuning the much-anticipated law.
It is understood that the new law will surpass existing economic empowerment initiatives and will be binding on the private sector as well.
The Prime Minister made her remarks when she responded to questions from the media during a State House meeting between President Hage Geingob, Vice-President Nickey Iyambo, Presidential Affairs Minister Frans Kapofi, two presidential advisors and the commissioners of the LRDC yesterday.
“The Commission has requested that it be allowed more time in order to further reflect on a number of issues about which a lot of queries were made during the consultations,” Kuugongelwa-Amadhila explained.
She said this would allow the responsible agencies to further “consult individually with stakeholders to make sure that the law we are coming up with is actually based on detailed consultations.
“We realised that many of the people that have participated in the consultations were from a few categories of the beneficiaries and that there would be pockets of stakeholders, whose inputs it would be critical to secure, and whose views have not been heard or articulated or represented.”
According to Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, it was also felt that some of the views expressed showed that there is no real clarity and/or understanding of the issue. “The extension would allow for more dialogue and assurance that there is a better understanding of the issues that the law is trying to address.”
She stressed that the extension would also allow the LRDC time to further investigate options for addressing issues that are raised in the proposed law, to conduct further research and to do benchmarking, by considering the experiences of other countries.
“It is not just a matter of meeting the deadline that was set. It also a matter of ensuring that we provide certainty to investors, because we cannot announce that there is going to be a law with such implications for businesses, but then three years down the line we have not completed the law so that people can actually settle down and make their decisions.
“Our request to the public is that when the second round of consultations is launched, people should actually come forth with their ideas to the Commission, so that we get those views [on record].”
The NEEEF Bill is ostensibly designed to promote transformation in business through promoting ownership by previously disadvantaged Namibians and ensuring that the management of enterprises reflects the demographic, gender and employment equity requirements, promote staff development in enterprises, provide scholarships in areas of scarce skills and support growth of new enterprises.
The proposed NEEEF legislation also looks at encouraging corporate social investment in communities and local processing of natural resources, as well as innovation, invention and technology.