President Hage Geingob yesterday insisted that government is not to blame for the current economic downturn that has led to Namibia’s credit-rating being downgraded to sub-prime status.
The subdued economy resulted in Namibia’s unsecured bonds being downgraded by international ratings agency Moody’s and there have also been significant job losses in the private sector, particularly construction.
Geingob explained that the government is not to blame for the economic downturn and reiterated that it was caused mainly by subdued commodity prices and a drop in Southern African Customs Union (SACU) receipts.
He said although the country faces an economic slowdown, Namibia will not seek International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailouts, nor will it accept the so-called “structural reform packages” from external parties.
“That is why Namibia has never gone to the IMF for an economic bailout package or entertained any internationally imposed structural reform programmes. Most of our debt is local and in keeping with continuing the legacy of my predecessors,” he said yesterday at the 18th Ongwediva Annual Trade Fair.
He further said insinuations that the government is to blame for the recession are mere politics, devoid of any truth.
“It was thus disappointing to note the insinuations that the economic downturn was caused by government. This inference is directly attributable to domestic politics and has no truth.”
The president said government views the economic slowdown as an opportunity to implement far-reaching budgetary and structural reform measures aimed at putting the economy on a more sustainable growth trajectory.
He said while Namibia was in the process of implementing the budgetary and fiscal reform measures, the country was yet again downgraded by Moody’s international rating agency, which apparently did not even attempt to understand or acknowledge government efforts.
President Geingob went on to clarify that the deep budgetary cuts and reform measures were not implemented at the insistence of Moody’s or the IMF or the World Bank.
“It was initiated because we value macro-economic stability, and we have a track record as such,” he said.
Despite the economic slump, the macro-economic architecture remains sound and the country’s economic policies have helped to set it apart from others on the African continent. He said Namibia would continue to refine its economic policies until it becomes the most competitive national economy on the African continent.
The president also called on all citizens to guard against tribalism, regionalism and xenophobia. He said citizens of neighbouring countries are not only Namibians’ siblings, but people with whom Namibia needs to develop increased trade linkages throughout the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
This year’s trade fair is being celebrated under the theme ‘Towards The Transformation Of Namibia’s Exhibition Landscapes’ and has attracted 456 exhibitors, including 15 international exhibitors.
The president said trade fairs provide an important marketing opportunity for local entrepreneurs, especially small and medium-sized enterprises and offer an opportunity to network and facilitate trade through business linkages between domestic and international entrepreneurs.