Schlettwein rules out external borrowings
Featured

18 August 2017
Author   CHAMWE KAIRA
Finance Minister, Calle Schlettwein, says Government has no immediate plans to raise funds on the international markets.
This comes as the country is battling a liquidity crisis and could struggle to attract any global interest in any planned fundraising exercise following last Friday’s surprise downgrade by ratings agency, Moody’s.
Namibia has a current debt level of 41.9 percent, which Treasury says is within the 42 percent threshold for Middle Income Countries.
Schlettwein said despite the country’s economic challenges, Government was meeting its foreign debt servicing obligations.
As part of his ministry’s spending cuts, Schlettwein called for improvements in the operational efficiency of commercial State-owned enterprises which have become a drain on the fiscus over the years.
“Private lodges make profits of up to N$30 million per year while the Namibia Wildlife Resorts, which has lodges on prime areas in national parks, continue to make losses,” he said.
The minister said State companies sit on massive assets, which can be leveraged to help turn around their fortunes.
“We can’t be throwing money at every problem. We will find it difficult to swallow, but the economy will improve down the road,” he said.
Despite budgetary cuts by the Government, Schlettwein said spending on social services like education and health will remain a priority for the current administration.
“Hunger and poverty have reduced in the country because of spending in areas such as the old people’s pension,” the minister said, adding that Namibia’s pro-poor budget had been acknowledged in recent assessments by Oxfam and the World Bank.  Schlettwein also disclosed that the Office of the Prime Minister is working on a plan to curb the wage bill of the 100,000 strong civil service.
“The wage bill is the elephant in the room,” he said.
Asked if there is political will within the ruling party to carry out reforms, which may lead to job losses, Schlettwein said SWAPO was ‘people centred and won’t apply a sledge hammer approach.’
“Money saved from reforming loss-making enterprises could be made use of in other areas of the economy,” he said.
Going forward, the finance minister said he expects the domestic economy to recover on the back of projected growth in tourism, agriculture and mining.
The Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) receipts are also projected to increase by 10 percent this year and revenue collections to surge with the establishment of a semi-independent revenue authority.
Schlettwein said Namibia is currently receiving about N$4,7 billion every quarter from SACU.
 
 
 
 
 

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