The leader of the Landless People’s Movement has criticised a move by the Government Institutions Pension Fund to transfer rand-denominated bonds and treasury bills from South Africa to the Bank of Namibia.
10 June 2019 | Economics
According to Swartbooi this move is putting workers' future at risk and if the government can just dip its hands into GIPF funds it means the fund is not safe anymore.
“The problem is GIPF must invest the pension money in order to get interest to secure the fund. When you take N$10 billion and park it, it means that money will not grow. It will just be sitting there,” he said. Swartbooi also shot down the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projections that the Namibian economy growth, which has declined as a result of corruption and prolonged drought, will grow by 3% in 2020.
“Does that mean IMF knows Namibia's rain cycle that it can predict that there will be rain next year that will break the drought? Does that mean corruption levels will suddenly go down? I do not agree with the IMF report,” he said.
According to him people privy to the country's real economic state predict that in fact Namibia's economy will worsen in the next three years. “And there is no place for tribal politics because we will under this government see a collapse of basic services. “There will be higher unemployment rates which will lead to higher crime rates and we will see much more organised crime because everyone will be looking out for themselves,” he cautioned.
According to finance minister Calle Schlettwein the GIPF has transferred some investments in bonds and bills that were in South Africa in rand and placed it in rand in the BoN.
He also pointed out that it was not the government's decision but a decision by the fund itself.
“It has been done; there were investments in South Africa in rand, now these same investments have now been placed under the BoN. It is still in rand, there is no change in liquidity.”
“There is no initial risk to the pensioner, it is just that where they were held by the SA institution it is now held by the BoN. And yes, it adds to our reserves.
“And it is a good thing, why shouldn't we do that? “Schlettwein said.
He added that Namibia remains a net exporter of capital and the move by the GIPF was welcomed because it would work back some of the capital that otherwise would not have been in our economy but in another economy.
“I think it is an informative measure that makes sure that the capital that our citizens save is in fact leveraged to boost our economy,” he said.
According to Swartbooi the president's decision to appoint a high-level panel of economic advisors is a vote of no-confidence in his highly paid advisors and cabinet.
He also demanded that President Hage Geingob explain where the investment pledges are that were made at the 2016 Invest in Namibia conference that was hosted at a cost of N$20 million.
“That panel is telling us that they will have a big meeting about investments. Did we not have a big meeting about investments the other day? What happened to the investments that were pledged at the N$20 million investment conference?
“Are there no documents from this conference that this panel can just dust off and read and call investors and say 'Okay brother, you mos said you will invest this and that here'.”
At the time economic planning minister Tom Alweendo said the investment conference was one of a kind as the country managed to bring together not only a big number of investors from all over the world, but also business people to meet and establish contacts.
Former presidential economic adviser John Steytler also told the media that that the conference was a resounding success by all accounts.