FIMA committee chairman wants public views considered

Martin Endjala

The Chairperson of the newly inaugurated Financial Institutions and Markets (FIMA) Committee, Natangwe Ithete cautioned against the handing over of power to one person or entity in deciding on matters relating to the public.

He was speaking on Tuesday during the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Economic and Public Administration stakeholder’s consultation on the FIMA Act.

He stressed that “These are some of the challenges the country is faced with, with ministries and individuals given too much control over matters concerning the public,”.

It is his position that Namfisa and the Finance Ministry, should not jump the gun on assumption conclusion, but that instead, they should listen to the majority of the public and truly consider the entire nation and not just assume that everyone has been consulted.

“We are faced with these challenges, and if we have to change them, then we must do so, let’s not be overprotective about them, let us listen to what the people have to say”, said the committee Chairperson.

Furthermore, Ithete was not pleased with the notion of preserving retirement funds to avoid people from misusing their funds, labelling it as unfair as one person or individual mistake is now being constituted upon the entire nation.

He has since reiterated his stance on reconsidering the public’s opinion, since the FIMA act is highly publicized, with many not in favour of it.

Meanwhile, Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority (Namfisa) Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Matomola said the implementation of the much-talked-about FIMA Act, particularly the preservation of pensions funds, is the sole responsibility of the Ministry of Finance and Public Enterprise.

As a regulator of the FIMA Act, Namfisa is merely an implementer of the laws which are already outlined and the same will be applied upon directives from the finance Minister. At the moment, FIMA is not yet provisional until Namfisa gets the green light to implement it, Matomola stressed.

The controversial regulations regarding retirement benefits claims which were said to be introduced on 1 October 2022 as initially planned, were put on hold last year by Finance Minister Iipumbu Shiimi for further consultation and referred the Act, which has been experiencing issues with the preservation of retirement benefits, to the technical committee.

The committee was inaugurated last week by Shiimi.

The public was particularly opposed to the draft regulation that persons younger than 55 years can only claim 25 percent of their pension savings with 75 percent payable when they reach 55 years.

The objectives of FIMA, according to Namfisa, are to consolidate and harmonize the laws regulating financial institutions, financial intermediaries and financial markets in Namibia.

Under these reforms, Namfisa will shift from compliance or rules supervision to risk-based supervision (RSB). Additionally, this will allow the entity to focus on matters that pose great risk in meeting its regulatory objectives due to its limited resources.

Other concerns raised were that FIMA was a Canadian act and that it is tailor-made for businesses, which Matomola strongly refuted saying that FIMA is fully a Namibia act and is inclusive of Namibia’s financial strategies.

Matomola further stated that “the act cannot be tailored for businesses, as some are alleging that it is a tool to take people’s pension funds. Government can never touch people’s pension funds, unless the legal entity which is GIPF buys bonds from the government,” Matomola reaffirmed.

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