NEEEF probably needs more time - Dausab
The Law Reform and Development Commission (LRDC) Chairperson, Yvonne Dausab, says more time is needed, if the country is to come up with more encompassing empowerment regulations.
Dausab said this as uncertainty hangs over the proposed New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework (NEEEF) Bill, after President Hage Geingob criticised its proposed regulations, in an interview with South African media this month. Among the proposed regulations is that 25 percent ownership of white-owned businesses be made available to previously disadvantaged Namibians.
In another twist on Monday, Geingob maintained that his administration was pushing ahead with the empowerment regulations, during an address at Columbia University in the United States.
This is despite concerns raised by ratings agency, Fitch.
The LRDC has been roped by the Office of the Prime Minister to assist with translating the policy document into a draft law.
The initial deadline for the handing in of the revised draft was the end of August.
“The consultation process we have evoked since February has been highly informative, in this and many regards; and we have received a plethora of suggestions and recommendations on how to make NEEEF a better law. The process of getting more views from more stakeholders, including those from the international and other communities, is ongoing.
“There is probably need for more research and benchmarking to ensure we get this economic transformation process right the first time,” Dausab said.
The Office of the Prime Minister, which has been spearheading the process, did not respond to questions from this newspaper on government’s official position on the regulations, following the president’s earlier reservations on the planned legislation.
Dausab, whose office has conducted various consultations on the proposed regulations, admitted resistance existed on the current text of the draft law.
“People were uncomfortable with the current text of the draft, and its impact on the economy of the country. Arguably, making ownership equity and management control compulsory in the manner that it is phrased, may not necessarily be seen as the best vehicle to achieve economic emancipation and empowerment,” she said.
The LRDC chairperson said she is aware of the possible unintended consequences of the proposed law that was pointed our during the consultations, a position also noted by President Geingob in his criticism of the regulations, but maintained the need to address economic disparities in the country also requires urgent attention.
“We have heard the caution from particularly the economists, and we hope that going forward we will find the perfect balance in addressing the concerns the Bill is intended to respond to, without losing our foreign direct investment portion.
“Government has a genuine worry about the state of our economy, but also feels anxious about the continued income disparity, and something needs to be done. That is where we need to take this conversation forward,” she said.
“His Excellency, President Hage Geingob is cautious about the implications that the draft NEEEF Bill will have particularly on foreign direct investment. This is probably a warranted concern, especially in light of the fact that promoting Namibia as the optimum investment nation is high on his agenda.”
Last month Dausab also revealed to the Windhoek Observer that black-owned businesses will not be exempted from complying with the proposed NEEEF regulations, amid concerns that the proposed law is discriminatory, as it apparently targets white-owned businesses only.
NEEEF, among other things, seeks to ensure that Namibian resources are shared in an equitable and sustainable way, through the implementation of measurable policies of redress and redistribution.
It also seeks the removal of barriers to socio-economic advancement, to enable previously disadvantaged persons to access productive assets and empowerment opportunities, while actively guarding against the repugnant tendencies of window dressing, favouritism, nepotism and self-enrichment.