Does fiscal policy benefit the poor and reduce inequality in Namibia?

Reducing poverty and inequality continues to be an important national priority in Namibia. Vision 2030 – the country’s guiding development strategy – has a subordinate vision that points to several goals: “Poverty is reduced to the minimum, the existing pattern of income-distribution is equitable and disparity is at the minimum.” Vision 2030 is being implemented via a series of five-year National Development Plans, with the current National Development Plan IV (NDP4) covering 2012 through to 2017. NDP4 sets specific numerical targets. One is reducing the incidence of extreme poverty to less than 10 percent of individuals by the end of FY2016/17, measured at the national lower bound poverty line of N$277.54 in 2009/10. This report demonstrates that Namibia’s progressive income tax and generous social spending programs substantially reduce poverty and inequality, but the analysis also underscores the limits of what redistributive fiscal measures alone can accomplish.