Economic planning boss outlines central control
The intention of the government to grow its control over the economy was clearly illustrated when the minister in the presidency responsible for economic planning, Hon Tom Alweendo, defended the budgetary requirements of the National Planning Commission in his speech before Parliament last week.
“If we agree that what we need is a fundamental transformation of our economy, then we also have to agree that the Government will need to play a key role in the transformation process. It will not be sufficient for the Government to playa facilitating role only. We are aware that the prevailing wisdom about economic development is that sustainable economic development is more likely to happen only when a country follows free-market economic policies – a system that prescribes that the state plays a minimal role in economic development and leaves the rest to the private sector” according to the minister.
“So far what is clear to us is that in order for us to overcome our remaining development challenges, we need a total transformation of our economy. We need a transformation that is fundamental in nature and not minor tweaking of the status quo. The process of transforming the economy is complex and will require a transformational leadership from all of us. It requires our development planning process to remain adaptive in an ever-changing and competitive environment” he continued.
“Given our economic transformation agenda, it is our contention that it will be naive of us to believe that a strict free-market economic development model will yield the desired results. What we need is a state-led economic development where the state does much more than just providing a conducive environment for the private sector” he said stating the case for increased government intervention.
“We are not suggesting a wholesale replacement of the private sector with the public sector. What we are, however, advocating is to dispel the notion that suggests that only private sector businesses can pick economic winners. We are also not suggesting that when picking winners, Governments cannot fail while doing so. There are numerous cases where Governments all over the world failed at picking winners – just as there a numerous cases of private sector failures.”
Getting to the point of funding the National Planning Commission, the minister said “For us to plan effectively, we require consistent and timely data at regular intervals. We have made great strides in this regard. The establishment of the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) has started to fill our statistics gap and facilitated deeper analysis of challenges such as poverty and enabled us to develop evidence based development plans and policies.”
“We need to continue capacitating the NSA to ensure they grow and achieve the highest standards possible in statistics management. Such capacity will guarantee our capacity to remain responsive to our developmental challenges and plan effectively.”
“Another important aspect of our development planning process is monitoring and evaluation. Without an effective monitoring and evaluation system, we will not be in a position to know if we are making progress or not. Monitoring and evaluation will work only when all of us make it part of our responsibility. That is the only way we can correct ourselves.”
“As we all know, the NDP4 is coming to an end in March next year. In this respect, the NPC has started with the process to formulate the fifth National Development Plan. It goes without saying that we have learned important lessons from the formulation and implementation of NDP4.”
“We will therefore make sure that NDPS will be an improved product with a total buy-in of all the stakeholders. We look forward to your cooperation and we pledge that we will make sufficient time available for appropriate consultation” he said adding “to advance and fulfil our important Constitutional mandate during the fiscal year 2016/2017, the National Planning Commission will require an estimated budget of N$216 million.”