Eradicating crime key to investment, job creation and faster economic growth
By Josef Kefas Sheehama.
According to official statistics, crime has been increasing consistently since 2018, due principally to the level of poverty and inequality in Namibia.
One of the macroeconomic problems facing Namibia is the issue of unemployment. Economically and socially deprived economies where levels of poverty, unemployment and underemployment are very high, are bound to see the effect in diminished economic activity. When people are not fully employed, they are bound to engage in different types of crimes as a survival strategy.
Getting rid of these social and economic discrepancies requires that the fruit of economic growth ought to reach every person, even in the most remote parts of rural Namibia. And since agriculture is the main pillar of the economy in rural areas, it ought to be a priority.
Income inequality and widespread poverty is mostly the result of high unemployment. Therefore, it is imperative to understand the relationship between unemployment and economic growth and to determine the direction to overcome these limiting factors.
Governments have the responsibility to protect its citizens by crafting efficient social policies to reduce the effects of crime on society. A high crime rate has adverse effects on sustainable economic growth by driving away both foreign and domestic investors. In turn, low investment eventually increases unemployment and poverty.
The challenges to effective crime prevention and control are corruption, poverty, family issues and poor motivation for the Namibian Police Force. Economic growth is a prerequisite for the development of any economy as higher growth rates tend to attract more investors into an economy, creating employment opportunities for the population. With increased employment, productivity increases and becomes a viable tool for higher incomes. However, when people cannot cover their basic demands in life they may resort to crime as a survival strategy. Therefore, crime increases uncertainty in the economy and this affects productivity and decrease the real Gross Domestic Product.
The incidence of crime in Namibia has been notable. It is regrettable that one of the commercial banks was robbed of N$1.3million on Wednesday afternoon. According to Deputy Commissioner Kauna Shikwambi, the suspects managed to take the boxes containing the cash and flee the scene. The prevalence of crime in our country today is of serious concern because it erodes the sense of security in a nation.
Crime also causes emotional and psychological pain for individuals and it affects the accumulation of physical, human and social capital. Furthermore, it destroys the social infrastructure and discourages both domestic and foreign investments. This undermines the ability of the economy to sustain growth and promote development. In all, organized crime is most damaging because it challenges the viability of the government.
In an attempt to reduce the crime rate the government had to recruit more police officers; increase funding for internal security and improve living standard of officers.
The interest inn crime and economic growth can be traced to the father of economics, Adam Smith who wrote how people are motivated to crime through the accumulation of wealth. When moral obligations and social controls are weak and not strong enough to function effectively and control behaviour, it leads to conflicts, violence and crime. Therefore, the police force is mandated to prevent and control crime as a government agent. The inability of the police to control and prevent crime, the breakdown of family values, prevalence of bribery and corruption and high unemployment rate, have all contributed to a further breakdown of law and order.
The relationship between the crime rate, unemployment rate, poverty rate, corruption level and inflation rate, negatively affects economic growth. Reform policies are needed to support economic growth by reducing poverty and corruption. The role of the government is very strategic to drive the rate of economic growth thus eradicating both public crime and financial crime such as corruption, is very necessary. For this reason, there is a need for synergy in eradicating crime at all levels of society.
The government needs to develop a welfare programme for children from broken homes and the unemployed youth to prevent them from being used as tools for criminal activities. One important thing to note is that it is not only about creating employment opportunities and increasing economic activity but also to improve the prevailing real income of those working so that inflation will not help to increase poverty and income inequality in our country.
The police cannot fight crime alone; the members of the public must learn to assist the police with vital information when needed. These solutions I believe will help to reduce crime and improve both domestic and foreign investment, and ultimately drive sustainable economic growth.