By Hilary Mare
FINANCE Minister, Calle Schlettwein, has confirmed the rollout of interventions to revive the pace and activity of some of the public sector’s ongoing major capital projects, while opening up opportunities for new ones.
Speaking at the Construction Industries Federation (CIF) of Namibia annual general meeting last week, the minister highlighted that in the remainder of the year, and in 2018 in particular, the country will see scattered green shoots budding on the economic landscape.
“We have progressed on assessing PPP (public-private partnership) options for some potential infrastructure projects. We will aggressively seek to harness PPP opportunities, where the potential exists, while keeping fiscal risks in check,” he added.
Government has already announced the planned the establishment of an Infrastructure Fund at Development Bank Namibia (DBN) that will be ring-fenced to finance the completion of ongoing capital projects, while also acting as a conduit for financing long-term infrastructure projects.
This fund will run in parallel with the African Development Bank (AfDB) infrastructure loan facility.
“Amendments to domestic asset requirements from the current minimum threshold of 35 percent to 45 percent by October 2018 will release a substantial amount of money into the economy. The private sector should work together with the government to identify listed and unlisted investment opportunities, and the Ministry of Finance avails itself (to achieve) such result-oriented engagements.
“We should make concerted efforts to bring about effective SOE reforms and the better utilisation of State assets, as a means of enhancing investment in infrastructure development, and more importantly, the Public Procurement Act offers opportunities for local procurement and tendering.
“This policy space should be utilised optimally to the benefit of the local economy. I have invited the construction industry to propose workable options for local procurement. This proposition is now overdue,” Schlettwein said.
He went on explain that the intended effects of the now extended Tax Arrear Recovery Incentive Program to the construction industry, while urging the industry to fulfil its tax obligations.
“The program has three primary objectives, namely, collecting tax arrears that remain owed to the Receiver of Revenue, offering a limited-time relief to taxpayers with outstanding tax balances to settle their capital amounts in full and pay only part of their interest charges, and inviting all persons who have failed to register as taxpayers to do so and benefit from the program,” he said.
The incentive program was first introduced in February this year, while offering to write-off 80 percent of accumulated interest and penalties for taxpayers in arrears, who can fully pay their principal amount and 20 percent of the accumulated interests and penalties.
The total amount of the principal amount owed is about N$4 billion and this has accumulated over many years, since independence.
During the first phase of the program, a total of N$500.8 million was collected.
The extension, which ends on 11 March 2018, comes with stiffer conditions and offers a write-off of 70 percent of the accumulated interest and penalties.
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