Minister of Finance Iipumbu Shiimi says all the increases in grants recently announced by government will cost N$850 million.
The Food Bank grant, which was recently converted to a cash grant, has gone up from N$500 to N$600, the disability grant for under-18s took the biggest leap, from a monthly N$250 to N$1,300, while the old age grant and orphan grant went up by N$100.
All the increases are effective April 1.
Shiimi said that the increase of N$100 in orphan’s grants is worth noticing, adding that these are not small pennies if everything is to be added up.
“So, all this increase in grants is going to cost about N$850 million, it is almost something close to a billion” he said.
The Minister said grants to the most vulnerable in society will continue should resources allow.
He said his Ministry was able to collect abundant resources that they could distribute especially to the social sector, as a result of the positive economic growth that Namibia has registered.
Shiimi remarked that Namibia’s economy is developing in the right direction and that the country has registered some positive growth, but there’s still room for improvement.
Hesaid when Covid-19 hit the country, the budget deficit was at 8%, and that his Ministry committed themselves to reduce the deficit to 4.2% where Namibia stands, which, according to him, is a milestone that should be celebrated.
The Minister tabled a N$84 billion budget in the National Assembly last month.
Shiimi maintained that the budget is pro-poor as it aims at supporting the country’s social grants.
He said his Ministry could have given more, but given the resource constraints, his Ministry wasable to at least give something.
“Children’s grants for instance has remained constant for so many years, for over 10 years but I have not seen any of you dramatise this issue,” he remarked.
Shiimi further said that members of parliament should be more concerned about social grants than increasing the parliamentary budget.
“If you really cared about social grants, it could have been better if the drama was about social grants; not about the budget of parliament for the benefit of those that want to buy gadgets.”
Regarding questions raised on whether the current budget is pro-growth, Shiimi stressed that that growth cannot take place unless there is fertile ground for growth to take place.
“The pathway that we are sketching to create a conducive environment for investment to take place that is an important part that the budget is making to promote economic growth.”