ECONOMIC planning minister Tom Alweendo yesterday admitted that the SME Bank is not doing what it is intended to do.
He said this during a business breakfast meeting on the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) in Windhoek which was organised by the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI).
The HPP was launched by President Hage Geingob on Tuesday during his second State of the Nation Address in parliament.
Alweendo said this in response to a question on how the government would fund small and medium enterprises since the Harambee plan rules out collateral, while the SME Bank does not give unsecured loans.
“We can admit that the SME Bank is not doing what it is intended to do. We are very aware of that,” Alweendo said, adding that financing has always been a challenge as financiers want to invest in something with potential.
“The government has to do more with the SME Bank to ensure that it does what it is indented to do,” he noted.
According to Alweendo, fixing the bank does not mean giving it more money.
“It could well mean strengthening the management,” he said when The Namibian followed up for details.
The Namibian has run a series of stories about the SME Bank in the past over various issues ranging from undercapitalisation, labour, failure to release annual results and shareholder structure.
This is the first time that a minister has openly spoken about the need to look at the matters at the SME Bank.
Finance minister Calle Schlettwein, however, defended the SME Bank yesterday, saying that it has made progress, although it needs improvement.
“The bank recently published its financial statements. Reading from that, one can see there is progress, and the bank is growing,” he said.
He added that SME financing still remains government’s priority.
“The whole architecture of the public financial institutions is in a process of being reviewed with an aim to improve access to the financing of SMEs, as well as youth- and women-owned enterprises,” stated Schlettwein.
Alweendo was a panellist alongside Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, FNB Namibia’s senior research and development manager Namene Kalili and presidential economic adviser John Steytler.
Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said the Harambee Prosperity Plan is not intended to create wastages, but rather to ensure that every Namibian has access to the basic necessities for survival.
She highlighted the fact that youth enterprise development is a big priority within the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP), with the objective of establishing 121 youth-owned rural enterprises, creating permanent job opportunities for the youth.
“Specific initiatives are being pursued to improve the competitiveness of the Namibian economy, in line with the Competitiveness Agenda 2020,” she noted.
Allaying fears that the Harambee plan will not work or deliver major and wide ranging goals, targets and outcomes, the Prime Minister said if all Namibians work together, it will be possible.
The business meeting sought to provide an opportunity for the government and the business sector to discuss the expected outcome of the Harambee Prosperity Plan on Namibia’s economy and the efforts towards poverty eradication and greater equity in national income distribution.
Credit: All Africa