Stimulus package nearly finalised

The first draft of government’s stimulus package is done and was present to Namibia’s leaders yesterday.

The package is … at an advanced stage. Tonateni Shidhudhu, Spokesperson: Ministry of Finance

African governments need a stimulus package of at least US$100 billion, including a suspension of debt service payments. Photo Nampa/Reuters

Jo-Maré Duddy – Finance minister Iipumbu Shiimi met with prime minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila yesterday morning and briefed president Hage Geingob later the day on government’s proposed financial stimulus package to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on Namibia’s recessionary economy. “The package is not yet finalised, but at an advanced stage and government is expected to make announcement soon,” the chief public relations officer at the ministry of finance, Tonateni Shidhudhu, told Market Watch yesterday. Shiimi is the chairperson of ministerial committee of economic cluster on the impact of Covid-19 and his team on Tuesday was “very busy with consultations” in preparation for a presentation in the run-up Geingob’s media briefing yesterday afternoon, Shidhudhu said. As such, Shiimi was unable to be part of a video conference on Tuesday where finance ministers of Africa engaged the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and EU for support for bilateral, multilateral and commercial debt relief amid the coronavirus crisis. The meeting was co-chaired by South African finance minister Tito Mboweni and Ken Ofori-Atta of Ghana. Expert team effort According to Shidhudhu, local financial and economic experts drawn from both public and private sector are working with Team Shiimi on the proposed stimulus package. “They have been having meetings around the clock since last Friday to finalise the proposal as mandated by the finance minister.” Although the first draft is said to have been finalised, Shidhudhu declined to share the content saying Shiimi will soon make announcement. "What I can say so far is that government is really working hard to find solutions to save the economy,” Shidhudhu said. “The lockdown, if extended for longer, will have negative implications on the economy and we are urging the nation to comply with the regulations of the lockdown by avoiding social contacts which will curb the possible further spread of the virus and subsequently government will be able to lift the lockdown. But if people are behaving as if this is not a serious matter, we will be in trouble for a longer period," Shidhudhu said. Africa Africa is facing a perfect storm of an impending global economic downturn, plummeting oil and commodity prices and weaker currencies which threaten to imperil its coronavirus response. "The call for debt relief ... should be for all of Africa and should be undertaken in a coordinated and collaborative way," the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) said after Tuesday’s video call. In an initial meeting organised by UNECA last month, ministers called for a US$100 billion stimulus package, including a suspension of debt service payments. Following Tuesday's meeting, they said the continent's development partners should consider debt relief and interest rate forbearance over a two to three-year period for all African low-income and medium-income countries. They also called for the creation of a special purpose vehicle to "deal with all sovereign debt obligations" though no further details were given as to what shape it would take. Africa's confirmed coronavirus cases had climbed to at least 5 300 by Tuesday, with more than 170 recorded deaths, according to a Reuters tally. – Own report and Nampa/Reuters

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The Covid-19 pandemic is putting enormous strains on the public health systems around the world, and millions of people in the world's most