Harambee tackles poverty in multiple ways
Stating that social progression is the cornerstone of his newly defined Harambee Prosperity Plan, the President, HE Dr Hage Geingob elaborated on the detail of his ambitious plan during his State of the Nation address earlier this week in Parliament.
Presenting the Mass Housing scheme in a down-tuned more realistic framework, Dr Geingob said Harambee rests on a four-pillar framework. His government aims to build 20,000 houses, service a minimum of 26,000 plots and build 50,000 rural toilets by 2017. The President also alluded to improving the efficiencies of state-owned enterprises, unlocking their value and thus relieving the burden on the national fiscus. This ties in with remarks made by the Minister of Finance, Hon Calle Schlettwein earlier this year in his budget statement when he said the option to partly list state-owned enterprises on the Namibian Stock Exchange, is being investigated.
Harambee is a Swahili word meaning to pull together in the same direction. The President uses the concept to encourage Namibians to work together for a common purpose. The President further said, Harambee will not replace any national development roadmap but will complement long-term national goals for prosperity such as vision 2030.
To combat hunger, a number of plans including emergency relief, improving agricultural productivity and introducing food banks were mentioned and will be implemented. The youth are the biggest winners in the State of the Nation address with the President pledging to establish an enterprise development scheme which will provide access to finance. It also envisages the establishment of information enterprises for the rural youth to create income-generating opportunities.
The pillars of social progression comprise the elimination of poverty and hunger; the fast-tracking of urban land servicing and housing; the improving of sanitary conditions; the reduction in infant and maternal mortality; and, finally, the acceleration of vocational technical skills.
Furthermore, government funds, grants and schemes targeted at the youth will be ring-fenced under the Youth Enterprise Development Fund to focus on entrepreneurial start-ups with innovative funding mechanisms such as venture capital and collateral-free lending.
To fund Harambee, the President promised to widen the tax base and include the informal sector. Another contentious solution is the possibility of establishing a state lottery.
Commenting on the subject, Financial Analyst Suta Kavari explained that the establishment of a state lottery to supplement State revenue and ring-fence income for poverty eradication and social developmental programmes, which was alluded to, should be approached with caution.
“A lottery is essentially another form of gambling, it is a regressive tax on the poor. The poor are the most avid buyers of lottery tickets, and a lottery ticket costs disproportionately more to a poor person than it does to a rich person.” said Kavari.
Kavari explained that instead of taxing the informal sector, plans should be introduced to help incentivise more entrepreneurs saying that the Harambee Plan is an ambitious and commendable plan which sets out clear targets and deadlines.