NEEEF will end 25 years of prosperity – Construction industry
By the end of April, businesses and various industry bodies had to submit their complaints and recommendations on the New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework (NEEEF) and the NEEEF Bill to the Office of the Prime Minister as the bill enters due process in Parliament.
Recent submissions include the Construction Industries Federation (CIF) and the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI).
In its final draft submitted to the Office of the Prime Minister, the CIF emphasised that both the NEEEF policy as well as the NEEEF framework in its current format would need to be withdrawn as it is not the appropriate vehicle to address social and economic problems. The CIF said it has a membership of over 470 members. A total of 389 companies are contractors. Of those, 205 are SMEs.
The CIF detailed “any empowerment initiatives should not lead to distinctions based on race, as it would negatively impact race relations. Instead, poor Namibians, regardless of racial origins, should benefit through increased focus and monitoring of already existing empowerment efforts.”
With regards to the ownership pillar of the framework, the CIF reiterated the concerns raised by the Namibian Employers Federation saying “The required capital and know-how is not in the hands of the poor and economically marginalised persons. Therefore the selling of shares to “previously disadvantaged persons” does not address the social, political and economic problems, which NEEEF intends to tackle”.
The Federation further requests the government to clarify how the currently disadvantaged will gain access to 25% ownership of shares.
Moving on, the views shared on the Management Control and Employment Equity pillars are that there are not many highly qualified previously disadvantaged individuals. There are not enough qualified individuals with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience, in order to adhere to this criterion. “Government should instead focus on why there is a lack of implementation of existing legislation (Affirmative action legislation) instead of bringing new legislation.”
The Federation also stressed that skipping the ranks of business management through legislation and not merit would mean promoting individuals prematurely, leading to detrimental effects on business performance.
“We recommend that compliance with Pillar One (Ownership) and Pillar Two (Management Control/Employment Equity) will never be mandatory, the constitutionality of which is questionable. Instead, the emphasis would need to be placed on education to secure genuine empowerment of people, which is EDUCATION” said the CIF.
Compliance with Pillar One and with Pillar Two of the NEEEF Policy is not possible without inter alia an “extensive supply of skilled and educated disadvantaged people”. “If enacted it will be the beginning of the end of 25 years of prosperity.”