SOE reforms crucial for infrastructure development – Schlettwein

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Edgar Brandt

WINDHOEK – Public enterprises reforms are an important and integral element to bring about productive infrastructure development and the mobilisation of domestic resources. This is according to Finance Minister, Calle Schlettwein, who feels that State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) reforms seek to elevate the role of these institutions in the economy, by getting them to provide affordable and reliable services.

“Most importantly, we have to unlock productive assets and leverage these to fund priority investments in the economy. In this regard, options on how best to leverage state assets need to be developed without eroding the state ownership of these assets. Such unlocking of underutilised assets would provide opportunities for investment where local capital can be best utilised,” said Schlettwein during an event in the capital last Friday evening.

Public Enterprises Minister, Leon Jooste, recently proposed a hybrid governance model for public enterprises, whereby these SOEs are categorised according to their functional roles in the economy.

“The large strategic infrastructure outlay, such as the soon to be completed new container terminal and the oil storage facility at the Port of Walvis Bay, are examples of catalytic infrastructure development which could further unlock our logistics hub potential,” said Schlettwein.

In addition, commenting on the domestic economic front, Schlettwein said the Namibian economy has endured one of its most precarious states, from a perfect storm in 2016 and 2017, to resurgent growth prospects this year going forward. He noted that following an estimated contraction of 0.8 percent in 2017, a moderate recovery rate of about 1.2 percent is projected for this year and is expected to further strengthen to levels above 3 percent, over the medium-term.

“Africa growth trajectory reflects resurgence from the effects of commodity price tapering and adverse climatic conditions in most recent years. The medium-term growth prospects are firming. After slowing to 1.4 percent in 2016, Sub-Saharan Africa growth outlook is estimated at 3.4 percent this year and further improving to about 3.7 percent next year…Tail winds arising from the rally in most commodity prices and an upswing in global economic activity over the medium-term are expected to support Sub-Saharan African growth over the medium-term horizon,” Schlettwein explained.

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