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Skip March and move the beginning of the fiscal year to July

Skip March and move the beginning of the fiscal year to July

A good case can be made out for changing the cycle of the fiscal year. Not only will this reduce the pressure on the Ministry of Finance, it should also provide a more realistic picture of how the ingrained local business cycle impacts government finances.

As a matter of fact, one can argue that the Minister of Finance has already de facto changed the fiscal cycle in the way that he handled the budget for the past two years.

In March 2016, although the fiscal consolidation decision has already been taken officially, we received a budget that was still very much aligned with its lofty 2010 to 2015 predecessors where fiscal income nominally grew by around 18%. It was only during the course of the year, specifically during the second semester, that the budget constraints started surfacing, and the need for belt-tightening, as the minister called it, arose.

This lead to a momentous mid-year budget review on 27 October last year where the main budget was basically wiped off the table, replaced by a completely reworked 2016 budget and a drastically adjusted medium term expenditure framework.

Come the first week of March this year, that mid-year review budget, with minor cosmetic trimmings but zero substantial adjustments, were presented as the main budget for 2017. The frontloading done at the end of 2016 set the new levels for expenditure, and the new revenue estimates, closely followed in the 2017 budget.

However, the same change of tack revealed itself in the recent mid-year review, only now the direction was reversed. The expenditure targets underwent some rather significant adjustments and the medium term expenditure framework was again completely reworked to support the temporary suspension of the fiscal consolidation process.

In reality, the minister gave us the main budget for this year, already last year October and I suspect the same thing is going to happen in March next year. That should be a clear indication that the budget cycle is out of sync with the real economy.

If the fiscal year runs from July to June, it aligns itself with the financial years of many of the very large companies, including the banks. That should by itself be a fairly compelling argument to synchronise the fiscus with the private sector. Furthermore, the dead January February period immediately before the new budget is due, will then be much less of a headache. I believe that is exactly the reason why so many big companies chose a July June financial year.

If the fiscal year also runs July June, then the ministry can take two months to table the new budget somewhere near the middle of September. Then there is no rush and it really would not matter if the budget is advanced or delayed by a week or two. This then provides a far more reliable footing for the dreaded annual so-called Article IV consultation with the International Monetary Fund. Much of these discussions are based on future expectations which, I believe, will leave more room for adjustments, if necessary, in the mid-year review which will then fall somewhere near the end of March.

In short, shifting the fiscal cycle will relieve the early-in-the-year pressure, it will neutralise the end/beginning of the year slump, and it will give us longer lead times to prepare for the inevitable meetings with rating agencies.

I further believe that, given the fundamental rigidity of the budgetting process, it will provide the ministries with a flexibility they do not have under the current dispensation. Their individual expenditure cycles will then easier absorb the end/beginning of the year disruption, and they will be able to plan their spending more accurately, as they will now have to cover only three to four months in the second calendar semester, and a more contiguous eight-month term in the next calendar year.

Sovereign budgets do not come to a standstill at the end of a fiscal year, except when you have run out of money like in March this year. Budgets are by methodology designed to foster a certain, reliable, trustable continuity. They never actually stop, they carry on, from year to year all the time, and when the opportunity is there to take a snapshot, almost like an audit, it is so long after the events, it becomes mostly irrelevant, other than for academic purposes.

In essence, I believe the minister has already done this. His actions at least show that this is what happened in 2016 and 2017. Now it is only a matter of getting his colleagues to consent to change the law so that he can table the main appropriation bill at a more reasonable and practical time of the year.

PS: First, as an aside,  is the City of Windhoek going to change Robert Mugabe Avenue back to Leutwein Street. I hear such rumours, or maybe they are just wishful thinking. Second, when will SADC start the consultative process to re-instate the SADC Tribunal?



About The Author

Daniel Steinmann

Brief CV of Daniel Steinmann. Born 24 February 1961, Johannesburg. Educated at the University of Pretoria: BA, BA(hons), BD. Postgraduate degrees are in Philosophy and Divinity. Editor of the Namibia Economist since 1991. Daniel Steinmann has steered the Economist as editor for the past 29 years. The Economist started as a monthly free-sheet, then moved to a weekly paper edition (1996 to 2016), and on 01 December 2016 to a daily digital newspaper at It is the first Namibian newspaper to go fully digital. Daniel Steinmann is an authority on macro-economics having established a sound record of budget analysis, strategic planning and assessing the impact of policy formulation. For eight years, he hosted a weekly talk-show on NBC Radio, explaining complex economic concepts to a lay audience in a relaxed, conversational manner. He was a founding member of the Editors' Forum of Namibia. Over the years, he has mentored hundreds of journalism students as interns and as young professional jourlists. He regularly helps economics students, both graduate and post-graduate, to prepare for examinations and moderator reviews. He is the Namibian respondent for the World Economic Survey conducted every quarter for the Ifo Center for Business Cycle Analysis and Surveys at the University of Munich in Germany. He is frequently consulted by NGOs and international analysts on local economic trends and developments. Send comments to

Following reverse listing, public can now acquire shareholding in Paratus Namibia


20 February 2020, Windhoek, Namibia: Paratus Namibia Holdings (PNH) was founded as Nimbus Infrastructure Limited (“Nimbus”), Namibia’s first Capital Pool Company listed on the Namibian Stock Exchange (“NSX”).

Although targeting an initial capital raising of N$300 million, Nimbus nonetheless managed to secure funding to the value of N$98 million through its CPC listing. With a mandate to invest in ICT infrastructure in sub-Sahara Africa, it concluded management agreements with financial partner Cirrus and technology partner, Paratus Telecommunications (Pty) Ltd (“Paratus Namibia”).

Paratus Namibia Managing Director, Andrew Hall

Its first investment was placed in Paratus Namibia, a fully licensed communications operator in Namibia under regulation of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN). Nimbus has since been able to increase its capital asset base to close to N$500 million over the past two years.

In order to streamline further investment and to avoid duplicating potential ICT projects in the market between Nimbus and Paratus Namibia, it was decided to consolidate the operations.

Publishing various circulars to shareholders, Nimbus took up a 100% shareholding stake in Paratus Namibia in 2019 and proceeded to apply to have its name changed to Paratus Namibia Holdings with a consolidated board structure to ensure streamlined operations between the capital holdings and the operational arm of the business.

This transaction was approved by the Competitions Commission as well as CRAN, following all the relevant regulatory approvals as well as the necessary requirements in terms of corporate governance structures.

Paratus Namibia has evolved as a fully comprehensive communications operator in Namibia and operates as the head office of the Paratus Group in Africa. Paratus has established a pan-African footprint with operations in six African countries, being: Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

The group has achieved many successes over the years of which more recently includes the building of the Trans-Kalahari Fibre (TKF) project, which connects from the West Africa Cable System (WACS) eastward through Namibia to Botswana and onward to Johannesburg. The TKF also extends northward through Zambia to connect to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, which made Paratus the first operator to connect the west and east coast of Africa under one Autonomous System Number (ASN).

This means that Paratus is now “exporting” internet capacity to landlocked countries such as Zambia, Botswana, the DRC with more countries to be targeted, and through its extensive African network, Paratus is well-positioned to expand the network even further into emerging ICT territories.

PNH as a fully-listed entity on the NSX, is therefore now the 100% shareholder of Paratus Namibia thereby becoming a public company. PNH is ready to invest in the future of the ICT environment in Namibia. The public is therefore invited and welcome to acquire shares in Paratus Namibia Holdings by speaking to a local stockbroker registered with the NSX. The future is bright, and the opportunities are endless.