Finance Minister, Iipumbu Shiimi, said that he is content with the response he has seen from all Namibians from both the private and public sector who continue to embark on fighting COVID-19 as a united front.
He said this during the Capricorn Group/EY 2020 Budget Review Discussion, an online live social media broadcast focused on discussing and reviewing Namibia’s 2020/2021 Budget recently tabled in the National Assembly.
“The pandemic’s impact is something we have never seen before, and as a result, it requires a united front,” said Shiimi.
Bank Windhoek’s Managing Director (MD), Baronice Hans, echoed Shiimi’s sentiments. “Despite the negativity that goes with this pandemic, there is an opportunity to rethink how we do things. And a good story for Namibia will be if we can come out of this stronger and better,” said Hans. “We need to work together as a country; to weather the storm and remain positive.”
Reflecting on the budget
With Bank Windhoek’s Chief Financial Officer, James Chapman as the moderator, the Capricorn Group/EY 2020 Budget Review Discussion featured Bank Windhoek’s MD, Hans; EY Namibia’s Managing Partner, Cameron Kotze and Capricorn Asset Management’s Chief Economist, Floris Bergh. The panellists engaged Shiimi on financial matters as they reflected on the Budget.
Bergh touched on the adverse effects of COVID-19 on the Namibian economy and highlighted how the Namibian Budget is affected from an economist’s point of view. He forecasted a challenging economic environment as the Government’s revenue would be less due to the pandemic.
Kotze spoke on the tax implications for both the individual and businesses. He pointed out the benefits of a reduction in tax, the Integrated Tax Administration System, and royalties. He also commended the minister for not introducing new taxes.
Asked about the Bank’s support during COVID-19, Hans said that Bank Windhoek has assisted through various means such as payment holidays and restructuring facilities. She added that the Bank has also joined forces with the public sector in terms of alleviating the plight of vulnerable communities to combat the spread of the pandemic. Hans added that while this is challenging, the Bank will strive to understand customers’ needs by supporting them throughout this crisis to build strong trust-based relationships.
During the debate, Shiimi said that these are unprecedented times and that the national Budget is in consideration of the situation. In the end, the finance minister and the panellists agree that the Budget needs to stimulate economic growth as this will create jobs and increase Government revenue. Most importantly, it needs to safeguard the health of all Namibians during COVID-19.
Concerning partnerships, Shiimi pointed out that the Government appreciates partnerships that are beneficial to all Namibians. “One such partnership is that with Bank Windhoek. This partnership manifests itself this year when we rolled out the Income Emergency Grant, which we are still working on together, and we appreciate the fact that this is at no cost. Thank you very much,” said Shiimi.
Shiimi and Hans agreed that the Capricorn Group/EY 2020 Budget Review Discussion was a step in the right direction to discuss issues of national concern while adhering to social distancing measures. “This was one of those platforms where we had a very productive conversation. So I am looking forward to similar experiences,” said Shiimi.