Let’s not rush the Time Bill

There is sense in the calls within the Parliament chambers this week that the motivation to change the current time change, between winter and summer time, be halted for proper debate.

In all fairness to the home affairs and immigration ministry – which did a superb job of having clearly articulated methodology to its public consultation process – the views gathered cannot be taken as the decisive voice of the country.

And, on the side, home affair minister Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana’s statement also put to shame the many criticism of those who say Namibian parliamentarians go to the National Assembly unprepared; Or that often the ministers are detached from technocratic systems within their line portfolios. Kudos to the minister.

There is, however, a great danger in rushing through such a Bill, least of all because it is anchored on a response of 0.15 percent of Namibia’s 2,1 million population.

Notwithstanding another valid point made in Parliament, that there were reasons the time change was introduced, a read through the ministerial motivation statement provides an alarming factor.

And that factor was among the observations made in Parliament (coincidentally it was the Calle Schlettwein finance minister who picked it up) that it is individual views, whose percentages gave rise to the motivation to scrap the time change.

There is another reason though: The fact that key institutions whose day-to-day functions are fundamental to the smooth running of the economy do not have views on this important Bill. It could be that the associations and organisations representing interests of such entities where involved or that their absence was simply taken as that they are represented by other representative bodies and organisations.

The global economy has long evolved to be too concerned about time zones – up to a point when such time zones posed serious dangers to a country’s strategic interests, be it economic, political or the security to its sovereignty.
It is too serious an issue to adopt without first soliciting input from a body not only wide enough but which is representative of those whose daily functions are to maintain the country’s strategic interests.

Their views might not necessarily change the course of action, but they could provide a better understanding that would inform the final decision, even if that decision were to do away with wintertime or summer time.

Further, many of the reasons given tended to be too inward-looking, while in some instances response appears to be suggesting an introduction of new policies and regulations altogether.

In the end it would be wise to exhaust the discussion on the Time Bill, and make a decision that not only looks at appeasing those who were vocal and fortunate to put down their concerns. But that the country makes a decision that safeguards its medium and long term strategic interests, be it inside the country, the region and in the global sphere.

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