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Here’s my checklist of the various priorities that must be addressed in 22/23 budget

Here’s my checklist of the various priorities that must be addressed in 22/23 budget

By Josef Kefas Sheehama.

The upcoming Budget 2022-23 should focus on protecting and driving the recovery of lives and livelihoods of Namibians, rebuilding resilience of the economy and catalysing socio-economic reforms.

Namibia needs a new inclusive and equitable economic growth model. We need to think local, tapping into the dynamic, youthful and flexible basics of the workforce. Connected to this, we must think creatively about how the informal and formal sectors could join forces, or complement one another to bring about more equitable development. The government has been supportive but should be more proactive to make available interest-free loans, greater subsidies, and a reduction in tax structures. These timely amendments will speed up the recovery from losses and help the industry bounce back. In addition, the Budget 2022-23 should catalyze structural reforms to boost the nation’s competitiveness, apart from ensuring greater sustainability and inclusiveness in its development agenda.

Furthermore, Budget 2022-23 must focus on green hydrogen as a key energy resource. The biggest challenges facing Namibia are to develop and demonstrate green hydrogen technologies which are technically and economically viable and cost-competitive, and to create a robust supply chain and delivery mechanism for these technologies.

Leveraging Namibia’s significant renewable energy potential to position Namibia as a top producer and potential exporter of green hydrogen should be a priority. An increase in investment in the sector will ultimately lead to better development and more jobs. It is also crucial for the government to support the sector.

Green hydrogen is a new but reliable technology for reducing carbon emissions in areas where electrification is ineffective. The growth of green energy is predicted to be among the fastest of any aspect of the energy revolution, generating specialized opportunities for businesses and investors.

Furthermore, the budget can include sustainable schemes to promote tourism. I expect the government to tweak the different tourism infrastructure development schemes for developing a health and safety framework to minimize the transmission of the virus, particularly at popular tourist destinations.

My expectation from the budget for the hospitality sector is to seek lower taxes, better infrastructure, and interest-free loan options. The hospitality sector in Namibia has been the worst-hit industry and has incurred heavy losses, which makes it imperative for us to look for relief in the National Budget 2022-23.

The Namibian hospitality sector plays an important role in the revival of the post-pandemic economy and hence needs special attention in the upcoming budget. It would be great if the government provides special incentives to corporates to conduct their meetings and conferences in Namibia, rather than in a foreign country. This will help develop domestic tourism, generate employment and discourage corporates to travel abroad for meetings. In a nutshell, the aim should be to encourage people and investors to spend in the country instead of spending money on overseas meetings. This will support a quick revival of the industry and boost domestic operations.

Budget 2022-23 must also focus on efforts to help the vulnerable and disadvantaged segments of society, women and the disabled to ensure no one is left behind in the nation’s developmental and recovery agenda.

The budget should serve as a catalyst for the implementation of the NDP’s and HPP’s that will drive economic growth, inclusiveness and sustainability in the medium term, guided by V2030. In formulating the public expenditure strategy for Budget 2022-23 Hon Iipumbu Shiimi should consider providing for the immediate needs in overcoming the Covid-19 crisis, the fiscal constraints arising from the reduction in government revenue and increase in government debt, and a catalyst in driving structural reforms.

Furthermore, I expect Budget 2022-23 to focus on rebuilding the resilience of the nation’s public health system to face crises by enhancing its capacity and quality, strengthen human capital in public healthcare and foster closer partnerships between public and private sector health providers.

Budget 2022-23 should also focus on enhancing digital and technological infrastructure as a core element for the continuity of the country’s economic and social system in the future.

From an education perspective, digital infrastructure and applications also need to be upgraded to enable the education system to adjust to support online education. For the business sector, digital infrastructure and applications would also play an important role in ensuring economic sectors remained operational and productive. This will expose the need for the nation to transition to industrial sectors with a higher level of productivity based on automated technology and higher skills. Hence, it will accelerate the transition to the Fourth Industrial Revolution and digital transformation, raising human capital capabilities through up-skilling and reskilling programmes based on the needs of the labour market.

To this end, the Budget 2022-23 should ensure that reform measures are implemented, focusing on the attainment of the V2030. These goals include: Fostering unity among diverse populations and creating a vision for a common future that pivots on the acceptance of differences to harnessing the strengths that are inherent in diverse societies; Responding to the needs of vulnerable groups, such as the poor and marginalized, the people with disabilities and the youth, should be a central feature of inclusive governance; Promoting social inclusion as inspiration and to gain a better understanding of practical actions that can promote social inclusion.


 

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