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Think tank joins unemployment debate

The Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) has joined those criticising the results or methodologies used in the controversial 2008 Labour Force Survey which found that 51.2% of the population is unemployed.
In a publication entitled, Namibia Labour Force Survey 2008 – An attempt to unravel the mystery of statistics, researchers say since the unemployment rate has reached alarming levels, surveys need to be conducted on a more frequent basis in order to assess whether government programmes achieve the intended objectives, such as creating employment. But in contrast to findings by Economist Martin Mwinga who torched a storm recently when he said the unemployment rate in the country is 28%, contrary to the 51.2% figure given in the government sanctioned 2008 Labour Force Survey, IPPR is of the view that the unemployment rate in the country could actually be worse than anticipated.
“Since the Labour Force Survey was conducted before the global economic crisis started to affect the Namibian economy, it has not captured the job losses in the mining sector and related industries  in particular, that shed labour between the last quarter of 2008 and the middle of 2009.
“The unemployment situation has therefore most likely worsened since the survey was conducted in September 2008.”
The research paper found out that although, government has responded with expansionary budgets in 2009 and 2010 and with the launch of the Targeted Intervention Programme for Employment and Economic Growth (Tipeeg) in order to stimulate the domestic economy and create jobs, it is not possible to evaluate the effectiveness of government spending without regular, timely and accurate data.
“The Labour Force Survey is conducted every three to four years and the results are published almost two years later. In order to monitor the labour market closely and provide policy makers with reliable data in time, the ministry (of labour) needs to conduct surveys more frequently (at least annually) and release results much closer to the completion of the survey.
“Otherwise government does not have the necessary evidence to review and adjust current policies or design additional interventions.”
The paper also said there is a need to review existing policies and implement programmes that can contribute to attracting domestic and foreign investment in order to create sustainable and decent jobs.
“For instance, the Investors Road Map of 2005 identified labour-market related issues that need to be addressed as a matter of urgency in order to reduce barriers for investment and job creation. Although two workshops were organised in the following two years not many of the recommendations have been implemented so far.
“Furthermore, government released its Labour Based Works Policy in 1997. After more than 13 years, it would be appropriate to evaluate and review the policy in order to adjust it where necessary to new developments.”

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