The ongoing struggle to finance land acquisition

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Staff Reporter

Windhoek – Government’s battle to secure adequate finances for the purchase of land for redistribution continues, as reflected in the current budget.

Analysts have noted the trend and have expressed concern that too little money was allocated to land reform, especially at a time when the land issue has become a highly charged and sensitive topic in the country.

The land reform ministry received a little over N$226 million for land reform, which is lower than the allocation for each of the previous two financial years. However, the allocation is set to increase to N$329,4 million next year.

Portions of the land reform programme, such as the development of communal areas, are to be funded with financing from development partners and development institutions.

Ngoni Bopoto, a research analyst at Namibia Equity Brokers, commented that he noted the low allocation to the lands ministry while the issue of land is a hot topic right now. He believes though that “government had to prioritise its expenditure due to revenue constraints and at the same time remain consistent with the agenda it set out in previous budgets.”

Activities funded under the land reform programme include the development of communal areas, which received N$15,3 million, and the resettlement programme, which received N$9 million. The bulk of the funds, about N$200 million, has been allocated to the purchase of land in the 2017/18 financial year.

Overall budget allocation to the land reform ministry is at N$453,4 million, of which N$176,7 million is for operations, the bulk of which is to cover personnel costs. In fact, personnel expenditure swallows up N$152,9 million of the operational budget.

According to Namene Kalili, a senior research manager at FNB Namibia, such figures show just how seriously the private sector is needed to “step in to drive job creation and economic growth”, thus alleviating the overstaffed civil service burden from the State.

Kalili has noted that the civil service remains bloated, even though the actual headcount is down to 90,000 civil servants from 100,000 previously. Yet, the wage bill shot up to 28.1 percent from 24.4 percent last year, representing a 15 percent increase in wage costs.

Meanwhile, the land reform ministry says in the last financial year it spent N$104,5 million to acquire 90,528.65 hectares of land for redistributive purposes.

“This indicates an achievement of 92 percent of the annual target for the financial year 2016/2017 of purchasing 98,000 hectares of land,” the ministry said.

Further, the tender for the Integrated Regional land Use Plans (IRLUP’s) for Omaheke and Otjozondjupa regions was advertised and suitable companies were contracted.

Participatory land use planning workshops were also conducted in various constituencies of the respective regions. The Strategic Environmental Assessment tender for Omaheke and Otjozondjupa regions was also advertised and evaluated and suitable companies were contracted.

The Integrated Regional land Use Plans for Kavango East, Kavango West and Zambezi regions were also finalised and approved by Cabinet over the last year.

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