Alweendo not satisfied with development achievementsBy: JO-MARÉ DUDDY
PRESIDENT Hifikepunye Pohamba and the National Planning Commission (NPC) Director General appear not to be on the same page about the achievements of Namibia’s development goals.
This was discernible at the launch of the Fourth National Development Plan (NDP4) in Windhoek yesterday.
While President Pohamba handled the issue of Namibia’s failed developmental attempts with kid gloves, Alweendo didn’t mince his words.
Briefly touching on Namibia’s political stability and democracy Alweendo said: “We cannot be too satisfied with our current achievements.”
Pohamba had a different take, saying: “When we look back at where we started with regard to our development, we have good reasons to be happy and celebrate our achievements.”
Pohamba said Namibia’s “achievements so far are impressive”, and that the country’s social achievements have been “many and laudable”. But, the President added, challenges like unemployment and social inequality are equally daunting.
A glance at the summary of NDP3 in the new NDP4 documents shows why the country should not be happy with its achievements.
Very few of NDP3’s targets were met in the past five years, most notably manufacturing which grew 5,4 per cent per year, exceeding its annual target of 4,9 per cent.
The other targets mostly failed dismally. Annual economic growth was supposed to be five per cent; it turned out to be 3,6 per cent. Annual growth in the primary sector should have been two per cent, instead it was minus 6,5 per cent. Investment was supposed to constitute 32 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), but it could only reach 23,3 per cent.
Namibia will need N$187 billion over the next five years to put its development plans back on track and ensure that the country meets its Vision 2030 goals.
Time is not on the country’s side after failing to meet most of the targets in its Third National Development Plan (NDP3) and radical, pro-active and accountable steps are crucial to put the country back on track through its Fourth National Development Plan (NDP4).
“An unrealised vision quickly becomes a nightmare,” Alweendo said at yesterday’s launch of NDP4.
Postponing the achievement of the Vision 2030 goals is not an option, Alweendo said when he presented NDP4, with a budget of N$187 billion, as a developmental remedy. The development blueprint aims to create 90 615 permanent jobs and average economic growth of six per cent until March 2017.
Alweendo in the past said that the 21 goals contained in NDP3 were “unrealistic” and that NDP4 therefore would prioritise challenges through three overarching goals: high and sustained economic growth, job creation and increased income equality. The new developmental blueprint is based on four foundations, namely logistics, tourism, manufacturing and agriculture.
“That we have far too many young people searching for employment opportunities that are not available, is no longer in dispute. We are all too familiar with dejected faces of young men, especially in our towns and cities, sitting patiently and expectantly at crossroads, eager to be offered any opportunity to work,” Alweendo said.
According to NDP3, Namibia had to have an unemployment rate of 33,3 per cent when the plan’s term ended in March. In the NDP4 document released yesterday, the NPC said that it was “possible” that the unemployment rate by the end of March this 2012 could have been 44,5 per cent.
NDP4 aims to create 90 615 jobs over the next five years, driving unemployment down to 40,4 per cent. These will be long-term, permanent jobs, the NPC said, unlike the more than 100 000 permanent and temporary jobs Government aims to create through the Targeted Intervention Programme for Employment and Economic Growth (Tipeeg).
The NDP4 target means that an average of 18 000 jobs annually will have to be created in all sectors of the economy. “This is a bold and ambitious target, especially considering that the trend in recent years has been a decrease in employment,” the document states.
Among the other targets NPD4 sets, is for Namibia to be the most competitive economy in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), to increase the Grade 10 pass rate from 17,9 per cent in 2011 to 25 per cent, and for the proportion of severely poor individuals to drop from 15,8 per cent in 2009-10 to below ten per cent. If NDP4 goals are met, 60 per cent of households will live in modern houses by 2017, up from 41 per cent in 2009-10.
Alweendo said Namibia’s current challenges “are not pre-ordained to us” and that they can be overcome, “provided that we are prepared to do what it takes to solve them”.
“We are ready to give up too easily at the slightest sign of a setback or criticism; sometimes even before we have started,” Alweendo said, calling for Namibians to “rekindle our optimism and be more resilient in seeing our strategies through”.
He said: “I am quite aware that it will take more than optimism to solve our challenges; but I am equally convinced that optimism will make a huge difference between success and failure”.
Alweendo said it is crucial to fully implement NDP4 and that “we must strictly hold each other accountable for our actions or inactions” regarding the plan.
He also assured taxpayers that the N$187-billion NDP4 won’t lead to macro-economic instability.