The year in retrospect

As the year winds down, The Villager gives you some of the stories featured in the newspaper. The following are some of the stories that were featured in The Villager in 2015

Senior citizens hooked on gambling

Some senior citizens who received a pension increase from N$600 to N$1000 from the Government have developed worrisome gambling habits, opposition MP Elma Dienda told parliament last week. “There have been concerns raised about senior citizens gambling all their pension away, and cases of alcohol abuse have also been reported”, she said during a parliamentary debate session last week. The Villager recently reported that 183 935 pensioners and people living with disabilities received N$1.4 billion from the government in the previous financial year. It was also reported that government had spent N$110 million on a monthly basis for the same in the previous financial year 2013/2014. Dienda also proposed that Government must consider building old-age homes for senior citizens as these senior citizens are forced to spend their pension money on school fees and related expenses for their children and grandchildren, which leads them to be unable to cater for their own basic needs.

Drivers to cough up N$12b for RFA

The Road Fund Administration has coined a strategic plan which will milk N$12.63 billion from road users in the next five years under the RoadUser Charging (RUC) system. According to the draft business plan of the RFA, the RUC system will increase by a factor of 7.4% on average over the five-year period under the baseline scenario of no policy change. “In this context, RUC revenue is projected to increase by 6.4% to N$2.24 billion in the financial year 2016/17 from the current estimated level of N$1.97 billion. Over the next five years, RUC revenue is projected at a cumulative total of N$12.63 billion”, Penda Ithindi, RFA chairperson, said at a stakeholders’ consultative meeting. Government approved a loan guarantee for the RFA to source N$450 million from Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), targeted for financing the TR 1/6 Windhoek- Okahandja dual roadway. The RFA has also disbursed N$270 million from its Sinking Fund in 2014 to date to pre-fund the commencement of the Windhoek-Okahandja project.

CRAN summons MTC over promotion packages

The Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) has issued summons against Mobile Telecommunications Company (MTC) in response to the company’s contravention of the Communications’ Act. Last year, MTC introduced a number of promotional packages, including a mandatory N$2 data deduction which sparked a major public outcry. In a notice, CRAN said the regulatory offences arose from the introduction of the N$2 for 10MB promotion, the introduction of the Select, S, M, L & XL promotional packages, other promotional data bundles and the Aweh promotional packages introduced on 12 December 2014. “The Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) herewith informs the public that it has issued regulatory summons against Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTC) for contravening sections 53(2)(c), 53(7) and 79(3) of the Communications Act,” the authority said.

NBL revenue to nosedive by 25%

Namibia Breweries Limited (NBL) revenue inflows will plummet by a margin of 20% to 25% in the next financial year because of the recurrent water shortages in Windhoek and the country at large, a projection done by IJG analyst JanHendrik Conradie shows. Conradie told The Villager that the IJG estimates that the revenues will experience a further decrease of between 35% to 40% in future if the water supply situation does not improve. In the last announced financials, the NBL recorded revenue inflows of N$2.4 billion, an increase of 5.1% compared to the previous financial year. Current forecasts suggest that without inflows to all the key dams providing water to Windhoek, the city will run dry. According to IJG estimates, NBL produces about 1.6 million hectolitres of beer per annum, which means that it requires about 6.4 million hectolitres for the year. At present, the Omatako Dam is already empty, while the Von Bach Dam outside Okahandja currently holds 16 million cubic metres of water, of which only 14.2 million cubic metres can be used before it reaches its “dead storage level”.

NSFAF saves N$100M from failing students

The Namibia Students’ Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) is saving about N$100 million from not paying tuition and assistance grants to failing students. The Chief Executive Officer of NSFAF Hilya Nghiwete told the Villager that her organisation had adopted a policy where they do not pay for failing students as the money can be used to assist other students in need. Nghiwete added that the failure rate of students is worrisome, mainly because it delays the students from the opportunity to contribute to the local economy. “The failure rate is also delaying the disbursement of funds to other students. We want to conduct a study investigating the failure, although failure may also be attributed to social factors. We will conduct a study which will be able to give us possible reasons why. We have an aggressive student sensitisation programme,” she explained.

1000 alarming labour disputes

The Office of the Labour Commissioner has seen 2755 labour disputes in the financial year 2013/2014, with an alarming 999 cases reported in the current financial year, of which only 700 had been dealt with successfully. The statistics were released by the Ministry of Labour through the Office of the Labour Commissioner, indicating the uneasy relationships between employers and their employees in Namibia. Of the 999 cases, 500 cases were related to unfair dismissal, with the Office of the Labour Commissioner successfully dealing with the 700 cases, while the remaining 299 were sent to the court of arbitration. If the current trend continues, those statistics are on course to match the 2755 labour disputes which were recorded in the 2013/2014 financial year (1st April 2013 to 31st March 2014), of which half were also related to unfair dismissals.