Economy in doldrums, says Tucna

In the run-up to the national budget next week, the Trade Union Congress has urged the government to prioritise economic growth and job creation.

22 March 2019 | Labour

Ahead of the tabling of the budget next week, the Trade Union Congress of Namibia (Tucna) released a scathing statement condemning the economic direction in which Namibia is heading, accusing government of driving the country into the doldrums.

The union is calling on government to announce public servant wage increases and to “take a progressive posture for a change and embark on a course of a wage-led growth. As a result we will demand the Bank of Namibia redefine its mandate,” a statement issued this week notes.

The union explains that in line with a “growth path that is fashionable and is propagated in many progressive countries … decent jobs must be created and encouraged with the utmost urgency in order to stimulate demand locally and thereby resuscitate growth.”

Tucna notes that they are against foreigners and are “merely propagating a policy that will result in our own growth being secured and hopefully reverse the dangerous course we are on”.

The union included a reminder that in 2018 the independent trade unions fraternity also called on the government “never to contemplate reducing or not increasing benefits for public employees that they were contemplating”, in addition to calling for salary increases for government employees.

Tucna secretary-general Mahongora Kavihuha accuses government, including its top leadership, of spinning lies about the country being creditworthy “only to be contradicted by Moody's and other international rating agencies”.

Moreover, the organisation took note of media reports referring to Namibia as a “tax haven for crooks and international mafias, which classification they still have to convincingly refute”, as well as the oil storage facility debacle and the Chinese loans issues that have inundated the local news in recent months.

The union castigates government and President Hage Geingob for selling out the country's interests and claim “their primary pre-occupation is self-enrichment” and their close relationships with Chinese “monopoly capital to the detriment of his own people”.

They note that recent studies have painted a grim economic picture of the country, and warn citizens that in lieu of the upcoming elections “all sorts of promises will be dished out at you and if you fail to discern the shaft from the grain, do not say you were not forewarned.” (sic)

In particular, Tucna quotes a study conducted by First Capital Namibia, which the union says “paints a rather gloomy picture on the revenue collection regime, especially over the period of the incumbent government”.

Kavihuha's statement says the study has shown that revenue pales in comparison to expenditure and no meaningful measures have been put in place to reverse this trend.

He warns that government's fixation with awarding tenders to Chinese, particularly in the construction industry, has led to no local growth as the money is not invested in the local economy but “repatriated”.

JANA-MARI SMITH

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