State coffers won’t be locked

Legislation allows the ministry of finance to release funds to tackle the new budget year.


We will announce the economic support package in a few days. – Iipumbu Shiimi, Finance minister

Jo-Maré Duddy – Government will have about N$22 billion in its coffers as Namibia starts its new fiscal year today in the absence of the 2020/21 budget.


In a statement released by the ministry of finance yesterday, new minister Iipumbu Shiimi said the tabling of 2020/21 budget was “delayed until further notice”.


Shiimi said he will apply section 9 of the State Finance Act, “which provides for a continuation authorisation” pending the passing of the Appropriation Act by parliament.


The section allows government to use up to a third of the budget of the preceding financial year.


According to the mid-year budget review (MYBR) tabled by former finance minister Calle Schlettwein last October, Namibia’s budget for 2019/20 was estimated at nearly N$66.6 billion. Government is therefore allowed to use up to about N$22 billion to keep the state’s wheels rolling until the new budget is tabled.


The MYBR pens total expenditure for 2020/21 at just over N$67 billion.


Stimulus


Since the outbreak of Covid-19, analysts have called for a massive stimulus package to not only mitigate the impact of the coronavirus, but to also boost Namibia’s economy which has been in recession for three out of the past four years.


Shiimi yesterday told Market Watch: “We will announce the economic support package in a few days.”


The commissioner of Inland Revenue, Justus Mwafongwe, told Market Watch that the ministry has been paying refunds for value-added tax (VAT) and “stepped up our efforts in accelerating the refund process during these difficult times”.


Shiimi said the budget delay was the result of the state of emergency declared by president Hage Geingob to curb the spread of Covid-19. Among others, this prohibits a gathering of more than 10 people. As a result, parliament has been postponed until further notice.


He urged all government offices, ministries and agencies (OMAs) to abide by the continuation authorisation procedures and to “continue applying prudent public finance management measurements during the state of emergency and beyond”.

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