TRIAL AND ERROR

Advertisement

Thursday, November 16, 2017 - 14:30

 

Over the last few
weeks, we’ve talked quite a bit about the values each of us should pos­sess if
we want to build a Namibian House. One “where everyone feels a sense of be­longing,
where everyone is presented with a fair opportunity to prosper in an inclusive
manner and by so doing, ensure that no one feels left out.” We, as a people,
need to be honest, loyal, kind, jovial and generous, whilst uniting in the
bonds of friendship. But what does our government need to do? For a start, it
needs to lift all Namib­ians into prosperity based on an inclu­sive Namibian
House, united in its cause.

There are, of
course, several policies one can implement to alleviate poverty, but none of
them work without econom­ic growth. It is often said that economic growth will
alleviate poverty, but this is not strictly true for eco­nomic growth alone –
it will only alleviate poverty if the lowest wages rise faster than the average
wage, and if benefits and pen­sions are kept in line with average wage
increases. Econom­ic growth, however, creates new job op­portunities, and that
is how poverty gets alle­viated. It is quite well known that the biggest cause
of poverty is in fact unemployment!

Government has had
some success in this, but it appears to have followed the time-test­ed method
of trial and error – repeated, varied attempts which are continued until you
find success. Unfortu­nately, it appears government is only meas­uring the end
result to see what is effective – and as a result, may be missing the inter­mediary
measures one can examine to see if policies may not be able to improve those.

This seems like a
job for our Statistician- General, but until such time, we can also look to
international studies – such as the Doing Business Report of the World Bank
Group. In its 2018 report, however, the re­sults did not look good. Out of 190
countries, Namibia came 106st on its ease of doing business, dropping five
places in two years.

In particular,
there are several sub-sec­tions where Namibia should mightily improve if we
want to build an inclusive Namibian House. In terms of tackling un­employment,
perhaps the most important of these would be the ease with which one can start
a new business. Namibia ranked 172nd out of 190 countries – we’ve dropped eight
places in just two years.

To start a new
business, there are 10 proce­dures that need to be followed, which takes 66
days. Compare that to New Zealand, the best, where there is only a single
procedure that needs to be followed, and it takes but half a day to register a
business. Would it not be better for Namibia’s unemployment if this wall were
not in front of every entre­preneur that wished to enter the economy? To simply
pay a company’s taxes requires 27 payments a year, and requires 302 hours of
work to complete. While this only makes us 79th in the world, that still means
a new entrepreneur needs to work almost two months of a year just on his taxes.
This is time not spent building his business!

Registering a
property takes eight proce­dures, and 52 days – placing us 175th out of 190
countries. It also on average costs 13.8% of the property’s value. With the
world leaders having only a single property procedure taking a single day, and
with it costing zero in Saudi Arabia, is it any won­der we’re complaining about
land provision when it takes this long and costs so much simply to register it?
Perhaps the prob­lem with land is the cost of acquisition…

For trading across
borders, I came across an even more startling statistic, which could explain
why the Bank of Namib­ia is constantly warning our citizens that our imports
exceed our exports. In order to export from Namibia, it requires 15 working
days to ensure border compli­ance, or two working weeks. It requires an
additional 11 working days to ensure the documentation is completed for that
export, with the costs to ensure compli­ance amounting to almost US$1 100. Now
compare that to the six hours required to ensure goods are compliant to import,
with only three hours required for import documentation, costing less than
US$210.

And to enforce a
contract here in Namib­ia, it takes 460 days to be heard by the court (only 120
days in Singapore), while it would cost 35.8% of the claim (0.1% in Bhutan),
although our court system did get credit for the reform process case management
and information communi­cation technology systems. There are sev­eral more
statistics that relate to the ease of doing business that increase our score
compared to these, like Getting Credit (68th), Getting Elec­tricity (68th),
Deal­ing with construction permits (107th) and Protecting Minori­ty Investors
(89th).

If we as a nation
wish to alleviate poverty and unemployment, it seems clear where we should
start. I know that we as a nation want to do all that we can. We want to make a
contribu­tion – we want to be a part of the plan. Our destiny seems uncertain,
and that can be hard to take, but our path will become much clearer with every
new choice we make. Patience is never easy; we can all understand wanting more.
But we also know how hard it is to wait, as a nation, to spread out our wings
and soar.

But we are here for
a reason – as a na­tion, we are gifted, and we are strong. We know we belong
here, and we’ll solve our problems. Our time is com­ing soon – as the sun
rises, so does the moon, and as love finds a place in every heart, we are a
nation. We’ll play our part.

Desmond P van Heerden, HonsBComm
(Stell) is the Chief Analytics Officer of Trustco Group Holdings Ltd. Previous
arti­cles available online at http://toi.hopto.org/. He can be contacted at
DesmondV@tgh.na

Share: