Namibia’s informal sector hardest hit by lockdown

Monday, April 13th, 2020 11:04 |
A customer buys food stuff at a settlement in Katutura township, Windhoek, capital of Namibia, April 7, 2020. (Xinhua/Musa C Kaseke)

Namibia's 21-day lockdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak has adversely affected the country's informal economy and indications show that the sector will most likely be the least to receive aid or support from the government's stimulus relief package, an expert said.

"If the package will be implemented in its current form, the large populations of informal workers who operate in a mostly paperless environment, who also depend on irregular daily wages and have small safety nets to fall back will be left out to fend for themselves," local economist, lecturer in Namibia University of Science and Technology, Mally Likukela told Xinhua.

According to Likukela, unlike their formal counterparts, most of whom were privileged to be granted 'essential service' status and thus continued trading, the informal sector lost business overnight as a result of the lockdown.

 "The informal sector is of vital importance as it provides employment to an estimated 150,000 people, contributing to an estimated 12 percent to the GDP," Likukela said.

Likukela said while he commends the stimulus package, he remains concerned with the fact that the package is putting forward proposals for economic stimuli and relief that includes a strong focus on cushioning business cash flow and wage relief for companies in the formal sector.

"We fear none of these benefits will reach the informal sector or those who have fallen through the cracks of our existing social protection systems," he added.

According to Likukela, an establishment of a separate or special grant to concurrently address the needs of the informal sector businesses is needed.

 "We believe that this grant not only will soften the impact on the businesses in the informal sector, but it would also act as a trickle-up economic stimulus for the economy as a whole," he said. (Xinhua)

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