WINDHOEK: United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Magdalena Sepúlveda called on government to put aside prejudices against the poor and implement the Basic Income Grant (BIG) as soon as possible.
She was speaking during a media conference on Monday at the end of her first fact-finding mission to Namibia.
“I was impressed to witness the positive impacts of BIG in reducing poverty, improving access to health and education, diminishing crime and increasing social cohesion. The government should be leading the debate and undertake studies on the viability of extending BIG throughout the country,” she noted.
The BIG pilot project commenced in the Otjivero-Omitara area about 100 kilometres east of Windhoek since January 2008. All residents below the age of 60 years receive a grant of N.dollars 100 per person per month, without any conditions being attached. The grant is being given to every person registered as living there in July 2007, whatever their social and economic status.
Sepúlveda, who arrived in Namibia on 01 October 2012 visited the Otjivero community.
She described the project as a ‘world-praised example’ and commended the efforts of civil society organisations in initiating and implementing the project.
The BIG is a form of social protection, which reduces poverty and supports pro-poor economic growth. As a national policy it would greatly assist Namibia in achieving the Millenium Development Goals to which the country has committed itself.
The costs of a national BIG in Namibia are substantial. It is estimated that the net cost is calculated at about N.dollars 1.2 and 1.6 billion per year, equivalent to nearly 3 per cent of Namibia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Government has not yet committed itself to the introduction of the country-wide BIG.