THANKS A LOT, SA
NAMIBIA RAN SURPLUSES on its current account of the balance of payments each year between 2003 and 2006 – and is expected to maintain that trend in 2007/2008. Ultimately, it’s very much a matter of “thank you, South Africa”.
Namibia’s trade balance plus/minus the services account was, or is projected to be, in the red for all six years. However, Namibia has been a consistent recipient – as have Botswana, Swaziland and Lesotho – of transfer payments from SA in terms of the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) agreement.
For 2006/2007 SA paid out R25,2bn from its Budget revenues under this arrangement and is expected to chip in about R23bn for 2007/2008. In October 2006 SA Treasury director-general Lesetja Kganyago called for a major rethink of the entire system. He said: “The Sacu formula will have to be reviewed. We can’t continue this way.”
Though the system was revised two years ago, the crucial feature remains that SA hands out a lot more than it gets back. An official from the SA Revenue Service says: “The customs pool is divided according to a formula based mainly on trade within Sacu. Because SA exports much more to its neighbours than it imports from them, the revenue split strongly favours our neighbours. SA gets about 10% of the customs pool. The excise pool is divided differently and about 85% of it comes to SA. But it’s a smaller pool.”
Another Revenue official has complained: “This is development aid disguised as reve-
Because SA exports
much more to its neighbours than it imports from them, the revenue split strongly favours our
nue-sharing. If we’re going to give aid we must call it aid – but we can’t go on giving like this.”
Against that is the fact that SA does have some useful export boosts from Sacu which, Botswana aside, is effectively a rand-trading region.
Meanwhile, Namibia’s economy continues to thrive.