March 10, 2011

Billions to create jobs

Government will pump about 100 per cent more money into the development of agriculture, tourism, transport, as well as housing and sanitation this year as part of its plan to create 104.000 jobs within the next three years. A total of N$4,2 billion is earmarked for these sectors in Finance Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila’s 2011-12 Development Budget, while the amount for the entire period of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) until 2013-14 comes to about N$11,1 billion. All this is part of Government’s bold N$14,6 billion job-creation plan, the Targeted Intervention Programme for Employment and Economic Growth (Tipeeg). Introducing Tipeeg as part of her 2011-12 Budget, she said: “Despite numerous efforts of Government to promote economic growth and job creation, unemployment remains high especially among the youth.”

Namibia’s latest Labour Force Survey shows that 51,2 per cent of the country’s workforce is jobless. More than 60 per cent of Namibians between the ages of 15 to 34 can’t find work, while, in the group for 15 and 19 years, more than 83 per cent are unemployed.
Tom Alweendo, Director General of the National Planning Commission (NPC) who helped to draw up the development budget, said he was “quite happy” with the money allocated to fight unemployment. The challenge now was to efficiently spend it, Alweendo said. “The way we’ve been doing it, the process takes too long. We must find a better way of doing it,” the DG said, adding that the NPC had already looked at a more effective implementation mechanism.

For 2011, N$1,3 billion is allocated to Agriculture, Water and Forestry under the Development Budget. Environment and Tourism will get nearly N$370 million, while Transport receives N$1,96 billion – nearly a billion more this Ministry received last year for development. Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development has about N$610 million for this year.

For every 12 tourists visiting Namibia, one permanent job was created, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila emphasised. Therefore she earmarked N$1,9 billion for Environment and Tourism for the MTEF period, which is N$678 million more than last year’s MTEF. The money was meant for investment in tourism infrastructure, tourism marketing, development of community-based tourism and the upgrading of infrastructure in national parks, the Minister said.

Transport was a catalyst for economic development, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said, allocating N$6,5 billion to the vote until 2013-14. This is N$1,6 billion more than last year’s MTEF.
The budget would be spent on the development and improvement of transport infrastructure, including roads and the railway network, she said.

Improving food security was essential to poverty reduction, the Finance Minister furthermore noted. Accordingly she approved about N$7 billion for agriculture over the MTEF period, about N$866 million more than last year’s MTEF. The billions were budgeted for improved livestock farming, animal health, the Green Scheme, better crop production, as well as the provision of bulk and rural water supply. Government would also build silos to store food, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said. The Minister added that maintaining the “expansionary budget will be more challenging over the MTEF given risks to revenue”. “Government will therefore explore alternative revenue sources to ensure that a favourable fiscal position is maintained.” (The Namibian)

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