Finance ministry warns against scams
09 April 2020 | Ministries
The finance ministry this week slammed a misleading advertisement offering help in applying for government relief funds.
The advertisement displayed the Namibian coat of arms and included a ministry of finance heading.
“It is not a representative of the government. It is completely illegal to use the coat of arms and it is out of line. We are not working with Viva Trading Enterprises,” said Tonateni Shidhudhu, chief public relations officer at the finance ministry. The ministry posted the advertisement by Viva Trading Enterprises on its Facebook page with a large “misleading” banner imposed over it, warning Namibians to “be vigilant and not fall foul of con artists such as this one”. Shidhudhu said the finance ministry was hard at work to roll out the stimulus packages and would announce the details soon.
Outapi-based Viva Trading Enterprises owner Roger Nehunga denied that his advertisement was misleading, but admitted that he should not have used the coat of arms.
“I am simply saying that as a business consultant I am opening my doors to whoever feels they are not in a position to know how the procedures will work. Many have already called to ask for help, and I have told them to wait until we have more information. And then I will advise them accordingly.”
The advertisement offers to draft applications for relief funds at a cost of N$500 for businesses and N$150 for households. Nehunga said the application process is tricky and he has been bombarded with questions.
“So it is up to us on the ground to explain to our peers what the requirements are and to offer assistance. And of course, as a business person, I won't do this for free. I have nothing to hide. I am entitled to run a consultancy to assist those in need.”
He added that those most in need are informal traders and households with little access to the right information.
Shidhudhu said if Nehunga wants to offer such services, he should be transparent and not imply that the ministry or the government is endorsing those services.
A business expert, who declined to be named, has warned that the financial strain many are facing because of the coronavirus pandemic leaves them vulnerable to abuse.
“This firm [Viva Trading Enterprises] is being opportunistic. In all likelihood, many similar ones will pop up over the coming weeks,” he said. The expert warned people to exercise caution and to ensure that the organisations they enlist for help are qualified and mandated to do so.
He said he hoped the stimulus package application process will be easy to understand.
Moreover, he said the finance ministry should ensure that those who need assistance have access to reputable institutions for guidance.