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New Era Newspaper Wednesday February 14, 2018

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8 NEWS Wednesday, February 14 2018 | NEW ERA Parliamentary opening through the camera lens The future… Ready for action… Graceful… Keeping it traditional… Good times… In remembrance… Statesman… Dedication…

NEW ERA Ten gigabit home broadband tested in UK Page 10 FNB Namibia hits N million cash-back payout in January Page 11 INSIDE USINESS his news is your business Analysts expect budget to focus on growth and economic stabilisation Edgar Brandt Windhoek Economic analysts expect that the national budget, which is scheduled to be tabled in March, will focus on themes of pro- stabilisation and a return to growth. These themes have been suggested as the government grapples with slow economic growth of two percent or less and as it scrambles to reduce the national debt down to 35 percent from over 40 percent. “I would recommend such themes because the minister has his job cut out for him as far as returning the economy to its growth path is concerned,” said Mally Likukela, the managing director of Twilight Capital Consulting. “This year’s budget is very important in the sense that it has to achieve multiple tasks. Currently the prevailing economic uncertainty as a government and private sector about the true state of the economy has fuelled panic and nervousness in the economy, locally and internationally,” he noted. Responding to questions from New foremost the national budget should try to calm the nerves of domestic economic players in the private sector, as well as international players such as investors and rating agencies. “It should give a consistent and compelling story of the true state of the economy and outlook and should spell out in no uncertain terms what the government intends to do to respond to the situation,” Likukela commented. In addition, he feels that the budget should communicate the successes of the consolidation efforts thus far, but should also not be silent on the failures thereof. “If any success, e.g. public all these should come out, and rightly so – we all know the damage the consolidation measures have caused to the economy. Let the budget shed some light there as well,” Likukela said. “Namibia’s international competitiveness has come out loudly recently in the media, so as a selling point, I expect the budget to say a word or two on this as well. This is some of the good news the government would want to put across in order to obscure the obvious challenges the economy is facing. Challenges such as corruption, unemployment, poverty and weakening institutions,” he continued. He feels the budget will focus on amplifying fiscal management measures the government has undertaken as well as those it intends to undertake. The bloated civil service will receive a lot of attention, particularly given the fact that it has leakages, Likukela commented. Minister of Finance Calle Schlettwein recently stated that a new approach is needed to serve the economy and, in this regard, the initial Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) projects. “The alignment of the budget to the MTEF, NDP5 and Harambee has been disturbed or shaken by the unexpected turn of events in the global and local economic situations. Most assumptions on which these plans were premised have completely changed, hence rendering them near impossible to achieve. Because of the – food banks around the whole country plan – NDP5 – major capital projects on board. The social sector focus of the past budgets will be a thing of the past, for old age pensions, social welfare, etc. was the norm. My expectation is that although the government will not scrap NDP5 and Harambee, a be done away with due to the funding requirements and urgency to come up with an emergency plan to rescue the ailing economy,” Likukela explained. Weighing in on the upcoming national budget, Ngoni Bopoto, an economic analyst at Namibia Equity Brokers, is hopeful that measures alluded to in previous budgets, such as disposal of non-core assets and partial listing of selected state-owned enterprises (SOEs), will start to gain meaningful form. “On the expenditure side we anticipate continued curbing of nonproductive expenditure in particular. The principal objective will be to rein in prudential measures like the debtto-GDP ratio, which is a key sovereign credit rating concern. Given the recession – based on Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) and quarterly GDP numbers – we cannot afford to continue increasing growth in public debt. Measures to slow its accumulation, coupled with introduction of tools to ensure optimal resource allocation, should be made prominent,” Bopoto commented. Regarding an outlook for the rest of 2018, Likukela said it is clear that there will not be much growth in 2018, as all economic fundamentals remain pretty much similar to how they looked in 2017. He noted that leading indicators such as vehicles sales, credit to indicators still point downwards. “To prevent the further worsening of the situation, leadership needs to back up management measures with tangible actions. They need to show leadership that commits to the plans and their implementation,” Likukela concluded. Cashing in on Valentine’s Day Edgar Brandt Windhoek As lovers around the world prepare to spend billions of dollars on emerged about Namibia’s willingness to participate in the worldwide craze that many have deemed as nothing more than a money-making scheme. It is Valentine’s Day today and while the country say the “lover’s market” is doing well, others have bemoaned the slow pace of sales and the tendency of “our people” to wait until the last minute to place their orders. took place in the year 496 and is said to be based on an ancient tradition thought to have originated from a Roman festival called Lupercalia. These days, Valentine’s Day is synonymous with extravagance, which many couples indulge in perhaps as a sign of the strength of their relationship. This extravagance is the hook that many on this day that has been labelled as a day for lovers. “We are extremely busy today and the initial estimates are that people are spending a lot more than they did last year,” said Nicolene van der Merwe, manager at Flower Love in Windhoek. “So far it is going well but I don’t have the time for this (conversation) today,” said someone from Blumen Margot before hanging up the phone as an indication of how busy they actually responded in a similar fashion to indicate how hard they were working on getting deliveries out to all who use this day to proclaim their undying love for their partner. However, business seemed slightly slower in Oshakati where the manager of Kasikili Florists, Evelisa Hamunyela, said: “Our people have this culture of always waiting for the last minute to place their orders. This are doing in terms of sales, although market is doing well.” Delight, conveyed the same sentiment: the fact that it was still too early to tell how this year’s sales compare to last year. Owner of Petals Delight, Kaarna Hamalwa, noted: “You know our people … many of the orders will only come through late this afternoon.” She added however that customers for Valentine’s Day have started prefer hampers that contain an array of goodies, from biltong to chocolates to cookies. “Generally, sales are doing better because our clientele has grown the overall number,” said Hamalwa. Meanwhile, Sylvia Shoikuti, owner of an Outapi-based gift shop, Mwaas Exclusive Creations, doesn’t even Valentine’s Day by selling gift hampers and biscuits to mark the occasion. “So far it is going well and because I advertised early I have been getting orders from all over the country. We year,” she said. FIXED Speedlink /TN588 At NO extra cost! Yes, for FREE. 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New Era

New Era Newspaper Vol 22 No 167