Namibia: grand coalition questions calls for policy assessment
The Namibia Coalition for Basic Income Subsidies (BIG), which for 15 years has advocated the implementation of a universal basic income subsidy in the country, questioned the government’s invitation to assess the distribution national wealth and poverty eradication.
The coalition, which endorses a BIG as an economic stimulus package, noted with concern that an assessment must be based on an actual program that is already rolled out.
Therefore, the organization called on the Ministry of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Protection to first roll out substantive programs such as the Universal Children’s Grant and the OIG, then to assess their redistributive and anti-poverty impacts.
“The current call for a consultancy firm to evaluate a project which has not resulted in new visible programs seems a waste of scarce resources, which could be used in the fight against poverty,” the statement read. of the BIG Coalition.
In a statement released late last week, the Coalition said it took note that the ministry was seeking proposals for the assessment of the ministry’s strategic framework, the Master Plan on Wealth Distribution and Poverty Eradication. 2017 / 18-2019 / 20.
“The evaluations need to be based on actual programs being deployed and we ask ourselves if there are any substantive initiatives currently worth evaluating. When the ministry was established in 2015, the minister and some of the key staff traveled to all regions to learn more about the One of the issues that was consistently raised was the need to introduce a universal grant. for Basic Income (BIG), ”reads a statement released by BIG Coalition spokesperson Rinaani Musutua.
Musutua noted that following regional consultations, the ministry prepared the master plan on “Distribution of Wealth and Eradication of Poverty,” but said only one new initiative had been taken: the introduction from the food bank.
“This initiative has been controversial from its inception in terms of scope, identification of intended beneficiaries and respect for their dignity. Following what appears to be an unpublished, internal assessment of the food bank, it was recently converted into a cash grant for selected households in two regions. “said Musutua.
The statement added that contrary to the wishes and proposals emanating from the regional consultations, the draft policy proposed a BIG for the unemployed between 30 and 59 years old.
However, Musutua explained, “This is not a BIG at all and is simply unemployment benefit. This proposal is not suitable for Namibia and is currently under review. We urge the ministry to follow the overwhelming evidence of the many socio-economic benefits of a universal BIG which must be a central pillar of Namibia’s post-Covid recovery strategy “.
The Coalition is adamant that BIG should be viewed as an economic stimulus package that increases labor market participation as well as increased purchasing power enabling individuals to become consumers of locally produced commodities, by especially commodities sold by informal traders.
“BIG is not a liability, but an investment in the local economy because it creates an opportunity for money to circulate within our economy, thus stimulating economic growth,” the statement read.
In terms of funding the BIG initiative, the Coalition is adamant that the government can afford BIG to cover all vulnerable Namibians in need.
“We believe that there are sufficient resources to fund BIG. It is the political will that is lacking. The government should reduce unnecessary spending, fraudulent and abusive activities within ministries. The government continues to inject a much of the taxpayer’s money in maintaining politicians’ lavish lifestyles and unproductive state enterprises. The government must change its priorities. When the government stops spending taxpayer money on unproductive activities, there will be enough resources to fund BIG. We need good governance policies to ensure that state finances are not lost in unnecessary spending, fraudulent or abusive activities in order to be able to fund BIG ”.
Supporters of the grant also believe that BIG will pay off in the long run. “Part of the BIG costs will be recovered through value added tax (VAT), as grant recipients will use part of the money to purchase goods and services on which VAT is levied. Thus, around 10% of BIG payments will be recovered. by VAT. BIG can be a long-term device because it will be amortized by the gradual recovery of the money invested “.
The Coalition further recommends that Namibia consider a model of a natural resource dividend fund using natural resources such as mining and fishing tax revenues to fund BIG, arguing that Namibia has valuable under-taxed resources.
“In addition, Namibia may also use part of the amount of income it receives from its membership in the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) to fund the OIG,” the statement said.