IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Addressing the Plight of Poor Households by Zero-Rating Value Added Tax on Basic Commodities In Namibia


  • Ojijo Odhiambo

    () (UNDP, Namibia)

  • John E. Odada

    () (University of Namibia)


Difficult economic times began for Namibia in 2008 as real economic growth suddenly dropped to 4.3 per cent from the 5.5 per cent recorded in 2007. There were also wide fluctuations in the general level of prices of goods and services, including food commodities. Cost-of-living inflation rose to a high of 10.4 per cent from a low of 2.3 per cent in 2003 and unemployment rates were high, well in excess of 50 per cent; thus many households faced an increasing cost of living without reliable sources of income. The unfavourable circumstances of these households were exacerbated by inauspicious climatic and soil conditions, which greatly limit the role of subsistence farming as a viable source of livelihood in many parts of the country. In order to mitigate the impact of rising food prices and address food security concerns, the government decided to increase from eight to fourteen the number of basic commodities (foodstuffs and services) that had zero-rated value added tax (VAT) in 2000, as a means of improving access to basic foodstuffs and services needed for daily survival, particularly for the poor. This paper offers an ex-ante analysis of how the zero-of rating VAT on these basic commodities affected the well-being of poor households. We use data from the 1993/94 and 2003/04 National Household Income and Expenditure Survey and a mini survey conducted in 2009 to determine the consumption patterns of these commodities. The VAT burden lifted is determined and disaggregated by income decile. The analysis reveals that, contrary to expectations, rich households are more likely to benefit from VAT zero-rating than poor households. The findings of the study make it plausible to conclude that the zero-rating of VAT on basic commodities in 2000 and 2008 did not adequately target the commodities that the poor consume in large quantities and that they acquire in formal markets; hence the measure is unlikely to bring additional benefits to the poor. The government might have to reconsider the choice of VAT zero-rated commodities and include those that are consumed mostly by the poor and acquired in formal markets, while simultaneously strengthening and expanding other schemes such as social transfers which would benefit the poor disproportionately. (...)

Suggested Citation

  • Ojijo Odhiambo & John E. Odada, 2010. "Addressing the Plight of Poor Households by Zero-Rating Value Added Tax on Basic Commodities In Namibia," Working Papers 72, International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth.
  • Handle: RePEc:ipc:wpaper:72

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: First version, 2010
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item


    Addressing the Plight of Poor Households by Zero-Rating Value Added Tax on Basic Commodities In Namibia;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ipc:wpaper:72. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Andre Lyra). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.