But then we are privileged as a nation to be able to comment openly, so long as we remain reasonably polite, on our differences; not that politics takes any notice of reasonable logic!
This is why budget time is such fun as the presentations for the Appropriation Bill, where the MTEF budgetary document is presented to the House for approval along with a host a supportive documents giving additional information. On the whole, something we do superficially rather well although the increasing mass of this documentation is worrying; the paper must destroy half a forest! However, with patience and time, together with quoted comments in our media, some interesting thoughts do emerge. Sometimes it is difficult to believe we live on the same planet, but that is democracy! We are allowed to be different unless we belong to a political party or are constrained by our employer.
This budget tabling, which I attended this year, started with the photo opportunities outside the parliamentary building as by tradition. The budget book was proudly held by the stars of the day and official smiles were groomed. But then, hey presto, a check of the document showed the title ‘Development Programmes’; a further check showed that this was not even a Ministry of Finance document, it originates from the National Planning Commission, their development budget. Unfortunately this document was not available on the NPC site but previous development budgetary output has always shown an incredible difference between Appropriation Bill estimates and NPC numbers.
The last NPC projection I recall from HonUncleTom was N$187 billion over five years versus about N$25 billion over three years in the presented MTEF. I therefore trust the senior people I spoke to will speedily get that document onto their site for download so we, the public, can be informed. Maybe there is even a silver lining to this and that, at last NPC and Finance will sing from the same economic song sheet. Maybe the NPC and its team may even move it to the new Finance building so they can actually be seen to live on the same planet! There is hope and we will realise that development is only a process of policy alignment to achieve success and growth from where we are and not some miraculous list of projects, often donor or multilateral influenced. Maybe the NPC Secretariat and Finance lot will combine and “Jointly deliver more with less”?
Enough of that, more fun, assuming press reports are accurate and with respect to Hons. So HonPeteKat is happy to spend another couple of billion to support an annual tourist revenue of one billion; interesting but I feel lacks economic sense, or am I missing something? Or HonPendukeni, now of Home Affairs, supporting AirNam by saying they need even more when her total Home Affairs budget over three years is about a billion. I trust that in her budget justification speech she is not going to complain about lack of money for her own team?
Or we look at Fisheries where with our numerous aquaculture projects we grow 60 tons a year of product which might rise to 250 tons if we buy some bird nets. But then look how much we spend (and have spent) on aquaculture. Or quotas which are blatantly political handouts and the recipients flog off their entitlements to the highest external bidders; they certainly do not reinvest except in new Maseratis and fancy houses. But more significantly Fisheries spends a quarter billion a year when our export revenue just exceeds 300 million. Something wrong here as well.
Or our famous government hangar at Eros. The Accountability report says it is 95% complete while the MTEF for Transport shows that 50% more has to be done in each of the first two years of the MTEF. And I could go on and on. Equally look at ministerial distribution of the whole. It has hardly changed therefore all we are doing is spending more and more staying where we are. Significant policy changes would require a distribution shift normally?
Thus there is much the National Assembly should challenge in its oversight capacity as part of its commitment to good governance. This, and TIPEEG, are certainly not creating jobs. Little of the real content addresses poverty. Accommodation prices and cost of living are driving people to desperation. I always wondered how an aeroplane was launched? We can’t even eat this pie in the sky!