Opposition parties must not dramatize situations for their own benefit at the expense of the Namibian people.
Iipumbu Shiimi, the Minister of Finance and Public Enterprise called on Members of Parliament to keep the interest of Namibians in their hearts at all times.
“When we dramatize things, it must be situations concerning our people and not ourselves”, Shiimi said during the conclusion of the debate of the Appropriation Bill.
Shiimi made the statement in reference to last year’s budget which saw the legislative body’s budget heavily cut leading to many members of parliament being unhappy because they felt that reduced funding will impede them from fully carrying out their duties.
The finance minister’s cautioning statement follows after several opposition parties during the debate concentrated heavily on the 2023/24 financial year budget shortcomings with regard to social grants. The grants were increased it with only N$100 in the current financial year.
The Minister responded to queries raised during the debates on the budget, where he emphasised that the narrative that government does not care about the plight of the country’s vulnerable people is untrue.
He added that the statements of opposition parties are very misleading, because for the past ten years the government has been increasing the social grants consistently.
According to the finance minister, more revenue for the government would enable an increase of more than N$100 per year.
Shiimi reminded the MPs that the N$100 increase translates into N$860 million all while the government will continue to commit itself to uplift the lives of those who are in dire need of financial assistance, especially vulnerable people.
The finance minister said that the economy of the country is developing positively. Although it might not be enough, he believes that Namibia is finally gaining confidence, and numerous investors have already shown increased interest in the country.
“During the Covid-19 pandemic, the budget deficit was at eight percent, and it is projected to be at 4.2 percent in the next financial year which is a huge improvement. The budget is indeed pro-poor and pro-growth, given the positive economic developments which the government was able to collect revenues,” he said.
He said that the budget is also pro-growth, but added that growth cannot take place unless there is fertile ground, and results won’t be seen immediately.
“Results will come with time,” the minister added.
Shiimi added that Namibia is entitled to payments from the South Africa Customs Union because the country is a contributing member. He added that payments from SACU is not a gift as some members seem to think.
“We are entitled to SACU revenue. It is ours and not a gift given to us,” he stressed.
The minister went as far as to highlight that the stabilization fund interlinked with last year’s launch of the sovereign fund is one way to save the volatility that Namibia gets from SACU to increase its revenue.
The finance minister acknowledged that the debt of the country has risen in the past few years, but this he said, is largely due to forces beyond the government’s control.
He pointed to the collapse of commodity prices and said that the primary surplus recorded and if the trend continues, it will stabilize Namibia’s economy.
“Debt is a not only a problem in Namibia but worldwide,” he said.