Vision 2030 an illusion - critics

The weak economic growth that Namibia has been registering has further entrenched doubts on the possibility of achieving Vision 2030 as government appears hellbent on chasing after winds.

In 2012, Minister of National Planning Commission Tom Alweendo says to achieve Vision 2030 the economy needs to grow by 7% annually. Yet the average economic growth rate between 1990 and 2015 stands at 4.4% and unemployment rate which is expected to be at 5% in 2030 stands at 28%.

Namibia is now at the halfway point between when Vision 2030 was adopted in 2004 and its completion date of 2030. It is time to undertake a review process to see whether Namibia is on track to meet the various targets set in the Vision 2030 document, otherwise the danger is that Vision 2030 may be forgotten economic analysts have anticipated.

Alweendo responded to The Villager that a vision is set to help give a strategic direction and to give a clear picture of what needs to be achieved, stating that having a vision is one thing while having it achieved is certainly another thing and that he is sure of achieving vision 2030.

“Because of the strategies we have pursued, economic growth rate continued to improve since independence, recording an average of 3.5 % in the fi rst decade of independence, 4.6% in the second decade and 5.7 % in the fi rst four years of NDP4,”Alweendo says. He further states that the average economic growth rate between 1990 and 2015 is 4.4%. He said the sustained strong economic growth shows that government has created a strong foundation for future the pursuance of economic development.

“Therefore our achievements so far are not to say we have reached the apex of our development, indeed, we still have a lot to do but our past achievement should serve as an incentive to do more. “So far our development plan ning process has always endeavoured to ensure that we learn from our experiences. This is refl ected in the evolution of our NDPs, which have evolved from a comprehensive all-encompassing planning to more focused development plans adopted through the NDP4,” Alweendo says.

He added: “NDP5 will be informed by our recent experiences where prioritisation will be our focus to ensure that we do those things that will have a bigger impact on our development. With that I am certain that we will achieve our V2030.” Alweendo further states that there will be no need to set a new deadline for Vision 2030 saying the country will come up with another vision – just like all countries do and at that time they will look at the state of the Nation and decide how to proceed then.

Meanwhile, economic analyst Henning Melber states that not even another twenty or thirty years would change the nature of Vision 2030 as identifying remote goals is based on illusions instead of proper assessments and planning. “What has also been lacking is the political will to implement a socioeconomic policy, which would give the identifi ed goals more priority than self-enrichment of a minority in control over the state and the economy.

“In addition, the required annual economic growth rate to achieve any such goals is not even close to any current reality. Any plan has to be based on somewhat realistic assumptions as a point of departure - even if this means to abandon any grand narrative,” Melber says. Melber further states that Vision 2030 should be shelved and honestly declared as what it is,” a Vision motivated by wishful thinking of the Founding Father. “It is utopian and not anchored in socioeconomic realities of Namibia and its structurally determined confi nements Realistic transformations of society require realistic assumptions and plans, which stand a chance to be implemented given the necessary political will. Dreams, however, as positive as they might be, can easily turn into nightmares if taken serious in policy making,`’ Melber states. Furthermore, as admitted by some policy makers recently, the initiatives taken by government through massive capital injection into public infrastructural programs did not have the intended eff ect of meaningful employment creation.

Rather public debts rose dramatically while unemployment was not reduced as expected or hoped for, says Melber. “This shows that large capital investments do not automatically create more temporary jobs. The money is spent to a large extent on the additional income for tenderpreneurs. The promotion of small and medium enterprises, including self-employment schemes, might have provided better results than grand schemes, ” he says. Melber points to the decline in SACU revenue, the eff ects of drought and the decline of commodity prices on the world market are other contributing factors, as limiting the realisation of any ambitious goals.

“But some of these factors could have been at least considered if not fully anticipated. This means that there was no proper planning but a populist tendency to make promises and create unrealistic expectations. Now the blame is put on external factors. But the blame has to be put as much on those who were either out of touch with realities or deliberately ignored these, “Melber said. Director at Institute Public Policy Research (IPPR) Graham Hopwood says there is still time to meet many of the Vision 2030 goals but it is necessary to monitor progress and also ensure that NDPs and the HPP are integrated with the overarching aims of Vision 2030.

“While short-term plans like Harambee are useful we also need to check where we are in terms of our long-term goals, the current unemployment rate is at 28% and in view of this it will be very diffi cult but not impossible to achieve a 5% rate by 2030,” Hopwood noted. Adding, Vision 2030 wanted Namibia to be an industrialised nation. At the time this was seen as the main way that jobs could be created however, we may need to review this aim as there has not been much progress towards industrialisation over the past 13 years. “It may be that there are other ways of creating sustainable jobs that provide decent incomes.

That’s why I think a review process would be benefi cial, “he states. Analyst at Simonis Storm Securities Frans Uusiku says, “They believe that it would almost be impossible to achieve an unemployment rate of 5% by 2030 given the rate at which the economy is growing and the economic risks associated with the government crowding out the private sector (Public Administration represents 45% of GDP). He adds that government should focus on improving investment confi dence in the country to attract foreign direct investment. ‘’This would entail the enactment of policies and regulations that entice foreign investment while also ensuring that local investors are empowered to sustain growth.

“The manufacturing sector and particularly the SMEs deserve an utmost policy attention to enhance their market competitiveness (or participation in the retail market) and therefore be able to expand and great more jobs. “There are already positive policy developments done in this regard, such as the Retail Charter, however, it is still a voluntary instrument at this stage, or not yet enforceable,” Uusiku notes.

He, however, further states that from an economic size perspective, Namibia is relatively a small economy by global terms, which means that the extent of economic growth is highly responsive to any changes in the demand pillars of the economy (such as Government spending, Investment , Consumption etc.). “Therefore, 14 years may still be realistic if growth-enhancing policies especially in the FDI and manufacturing space are implemented, monitored, and evaluated on a consistent basis,” he says.