WINDHOEK, 07 APR – With the meagre resources at Government’s disposal, establishing a sovereign wealth fund is not a feasible option in Namibia, finance minister Calle Schlettwein said on Thursday.
Responding to queries on the N.dollars 65 million 2018/19 National Budget in the National Assembly (NA), Schlettwein said available resources will be directed at addressing structural imbalances.
“Available scarce resources are to address structural development needs, avert borrowing costs and support realisation of a successful consolidation programme,” he said.
With the plethora of challenges and circumstances that Namibia is currently faced with, the establishment of such a fund is not feasible at this time, said the minister.
“Government is in a fiscal adjustment process, elevated budget deficit and public debt levels,” he said.
Schlettwein added that calls for such a fund were conceptually plausible and theoretically possible, “But its feasibility at this point in time should be well-considered”.
He added that the creation of sovereign wealth presupposes existence of surplus revenue that could be set aside, which is not Namibia’s current reality.
The fund’s formation was proposed by Swanu Parliamentarian, Usutuaije Maamberua in the NA a fortnight ago.
A sovereign wealth fund is a state-owned investment fund that invests in real and financial assets and which is set aside for investment purposes to benefit the country’s economy and citizens.
Another complaint raised by opposition parties during their contributions to the budget was Government’s lacklustre and rhetorical approach in fighting corruption.
In his response, Schlettwein concurred with the shared concern and called for corruption to be “nipped in the bud”.
He said while Namibia ranks favourably on the global corruption index, it does not mean the country is free from corruption and its effects.
“We must therefore ruthlessly implement the zero tolerance stance against corruption at all levels,” he said.
In recent times, President Hage Geingob consistently lamented that corruption allegations and perceptions of corruption mounted against government officials, taints Government.
He, however, maintained that Government has the political will to combat corruption.
In 2017, Namibia was ranked the fifth least corrupt African country by The Nerve Africa, a Continental Africa business news publication providing reports and analysis on the African economy, technology, and innovation in Africa.