THE government has implored businesses to avoid retrenchments at all costs, to safeguard livelihoods while boosting the economy.

Finance minister Iipumbu Shiimi

Speaking during the Covid-19 update at State House and answering a question from The Namibian on Monday, finance minister Iipumbu Shiimi called on businesses to find solutions that can mitigate job losses.

“Covid-19 is a global problem and certain issues may not be avoided, but we are asking businesses to avoid retrenchments and rather come up with job saving solutions. Job losses bring forth a change in livehoods, and if companies can by all costs avoid retrenchments, they are encouraged to do so,” the minister said.

Regarding the construction sector that has shed 30 000 jobs as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown, Shiimi stressed that the government has settled N$1,2 billion in outstanding invoices. “We have also appealed to the ministries to submit invoices on time. We continue to ask for invoices to be submitted on time so that the government can settle them on time,” he said.

For people who have been retrenched, Shiimi added that the government with its stimulus package targeted sectors severely affected by the lockdown, which are tourism, aviation and construction.

“With the wage subsidy, We ensured that 18% of salaries were paid in cash. We ensured the waiving of the social security contribution,” the finance minister noted.

He added that the government is unable to support all sectors, including those that are retrenching people.

“All of us are trying to keep our employees,” he said, saying low-income earners can be assisted by the government.

“The strategy is that for those we can support, we will support, to avoid total collapse of the economy. As the economy is reopening, we are asking businesses to do whatever possible to avoid job losses,” he said.

Also speaking at the briefing, president Hage Geingob questioned what happened to solidarity and Namibians standing together.

“Solidarity can mean that some may say they can take a 50% salary cut to save the jobs of those who are being retrenched,” he said.

The president further remarked that companies are supposed to be tapping into their reserves, to avoid retrenchments.

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