MTI to spearhead economic development initiatives

The Trade and Industry ministry will this year implement a number of initiatives aimed at boosting economic competitiveness, a government official has said.

Speaking at the annual staff meeting today, Trade and Industry minister Calle Schlettwein said this will be done in line with recognition that a well-developed and competitive trade and industrial sector is the source of employment, a means for addressing existing social inequities; and an important source and basis for wealth creation.

“I wish to point out some the highlights of what has been done and what still remains outstanding and needs much urgent attention during the course of this year and the next years,” he said.

He told staff members that cabinet last year approved the Growth at Home strategy and has continued to prioritize the development of small businesses (SME) sector in the country through various support programmes.

These include the Equipment Aid Scheme, the establishment of the SME Bank and the official opening is yet to be done in the first quarter of this year, the construction and provision of affordable business premises through the Sites and Premises Programme, and the Feasibility Study and Business Plan development support programme.

He said that the ministry must ensure that the Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement (BIPA) Act goes through Parliament in ensuring that this body is legally up and running.

“We must also ensure that the long outstanding Investment Act also goes through Parliament to realize its urgent implementation. The re-organization and capacitation of the Ministry branch offices in the various regions of the country, so that these offices are truly able to effectively provide all the services that the Ministry is tasked to provide,” he said.

Schlettwein said that there is a need to pro-actively review the existing 1997 Small Business Policy as well as programmes in order to ensure a better definition of an SME and the continued relevance and effectiveness of these current programmes.

Investments and businesses he said are attracted to and will operate effectively in a country that has in place a policy and regulatory framework that is pro-business.

In this regard, and in keeping with the recognition that the Government has that the private business sector is an important partner and source of wealth creation, of employment and of economic growth, the Ministry of Trade & Industry’s focus has been to have in place a law as well as incentives for various investments.

He said that together with the laws on investment, the Government has also put in place incentives targeted at some crucial industries such as manufacturing and exports.

Deliberate measures are needed to upgrade and boost the productive and supply-side capacity of local industries.

“Namibia as a member of SADC has ascribed to the regionally adopted Industrial Upgrading and Modernization Programme (IUMP), which programme is aimed at building and expanding the capacity, efficiency and competitiveness strengthening of local industries and enterprises, with special focus on agro-processing, fisheries, minerals and pharmaceuticals,” he said.