It seems like a lifetime ago that the lockdown was imposed in Namibia. Seven months have passed and the economy is slowly getting back to some kind of normal, reports Saiba’s Namibian representative, Lehana Nel.
Last week the government announced the further relaxation of lockdown regulations. Crucially, tourism – which normally accounts for 10% of Namibia’s GDP – has been reopened for business. The borders have been opened for foreign tourists, provided they pass Covid tests.
Nel says the lockdown visited hardship of many Namibians, but it did have some positive outcomes: there was a rise in production and distribution of locally manufactured goods, many new businesses were established, and famers had found new ways to market and attract customers.
“Supporting local businesses is the best thing a country can do for itself and I have seen a lot of that during the lockdown,” says Nel.
Another positive outcome is the discovery of new markets for old goods – such as blueberries, which are now being exported to Europe.
The lockdown ground tourism to a halt, with many tourism-related businesses being forced to shut down. The good news is that many of them are now able to reopen.
As a practice owner, Nel has had to work harder than ever to help her clients through the lockdown crisis.
“Clients demand their VAT refunds earlier than usual because they needed the funds to keep their business running or pay off their employees. It was stated in the news that the ministry of Finance has paid over N$1.7 billion in VAT refunds. That shows that businesses are struggling. The hunting and tourism clients not being able to pay was also a major blow, some needed revisal,” says Nel
To survive as a practice, Nel made payment exceptions for some clients while she had to let go of others who could not pay. “There’s a lot of restructuring that needed to be done, with time and effort, they were able to do so and keep going.
“I was very fortunate that I did not have to retrench any of my employees, we had to plan on working from home. We made sure that we availed ourselves to clients whenever they needed us, that meant working overtime. Am glad that we pulled through and I am guaranteed that my employees will get their 13th check. It was tough but we pulled through.”
Nel applauds the Namibian government for its deft handling of the crisis, which could have been far worse in terms of economic damage. Namibians regarded the crisis with characteristic humour and a determination to see it through.
Although still a long way from normality, Namibia has seen a decrease Covid-19 cases and deaths. The country is now getting back on its feet, and is anticipating a strong economic rebound.
Nel had some notices for our Namibian members to bear in mind:
Extension of individual income tax returns and Tax Incentive Programme
On Wednesday, 23 September 2020, the Ministry of Finance issued a media release regarding the extension of filing individual income tax returns and the current tax incentive programme.
The Ministry has extended the deadline for submitting individual income tax returns, and granted an extension on the current incentive programme which would have initially lapsed on 30 September 2020.