During the tabling of the 2019/20 Budget on 27 March 2019, Minister of Finance Calle Schlettwein pointed out that the budget made provision for “a growth stimulus package”. However, in their debate during the committee stage between 16 and 28 May 2019, various members of the National Council expressed concern regarding various allocations, notably unemployment, poverty eradication, gender/gender responsive budget and spending cuts.
Despite the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare’s budget allocation of N$1.2 billion, some members of the National Council felt that this is insufficient, and does not align with the government’s talk of prioritising gender equality. Areas of lack included a lack of designated vehicles, the discontinuation of the Girl Child programme, and a nationwide shortage of social workers and Gender Liaison Officers. Hon. Kalipi, Councillor of Anamulenge Constituency, emphasised that there is a need to re-visit the National Gender Policy specifically on priority areas such as Health and Reproductive Health. She also said that there is a need to legalise abortion in Namibia.
The 2018 Labour Force Survey from the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) estimated an unemployment rate of 33.4% and a youth unemployment rate of 46.1%. Hon. Kandjii, Councillor of Katutura Central Constituency, noted that the Ministry of Safety and Security’s allocation of N$ 5.5 billion had the potential to create employment opportunities through the recruitment of personnel. He added, however, that recruitment should be open to all Namibians, regardless of age, sex, race, and other factors.
There were some positive comments. Regarding poverty eradication, some councillors expressed gratitude to the president for appointing a religious representative to engage with an alternative perspective on the impact of poverty. Hon. Mupya, Councillor of the Opuwo Urban Constituency, praised the continuation of the Basic Income Grant (BIG), the National Foodbank, and other interventions from the ministry, saying that they had the potential to uplift many Namibians from poverty.
The Appropriation Bill was fully debated and passed without any amendment by the National Council on 28 May 2019.