Gloomy picture of SD painted
MBABANE – A gloomy picture of the economic and financial situation of the kingdom was painted before diplomats yesterday.
They got to learn from government that the country was on a serious downward economic spiral with a projected economic growth of just 0.7 per cent and a rising unemployment rate.
This was at a briefing session for the diplomatic community arranged by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mtiti Fakudze, and Minister of Economic Planning and Development, Prince Hlangusemphi.
The meeting was held in the Swaziland Broadcasting and Information Service (SBIS) conference room.
The diplomatic community had requested such a meeting out of concern, to help comprehend the prevailing situation in the country.
Fakudze expressed desire that the meeting would result in fruitful discussions that would help place the country in a better position.
Meanwhile, Prince Hlangusemphi said the economic growth rate started declining in 2005, where it was at 2.5 per cent per year.
"Swaziland has experienced the lowest economic growth compared to other southern African countries like South Africa and Lesotho.
It has been far less than the five per cent needed to make a worthwhile impact on poverty reduction," said the prince.
He said the agricultural sector was hard hit by the erratic weather patterns over the years resulting in long droughts and short-lived rains.
Also, the global economic crisis contributed to lowering economic growth in the kingdom.
Furthermore, he said the impact of HIV and AIDS was also being felt, particularly because it was responsible for the death of highly skilled labour.
The minister also touched on other affected areas, such as manufacturing, tourism and the level of employment.
He outlined some government interventions such as the Economic Recovery Strategy and Fiscal Adjustment Roadmap.
Meanwhile, United States of America Ambassador to Swaziland Earl Irving, representing the diplomatic corps, thanked government for responding to the request for such a briefing.
"All of us here have concerns which we will share," he said.
However, these concerns were not readily obtainable because the Minister of Foreign Affairs said the rest of the session would be closed to the media.
‘Heavy dependency on SACU receipts affects kingdom badly’
MBABANE – Minister of Economic Planning and Development Prince Hlangus-emphi says heavy dependency on SACU receipts badly affected the country.
The Southern African Customs Union (SACU), is responsible for revenue accrued from trade between participating southern African countries.
However, the reduction of receipts from 2010 had a massive impact on the financial standing of Swaziland, to such an extent that there has been a crisis that has seen government struggling to honour its financial obligations. "We have been depending on SACU for far too long," the minister told the diplomats.
SACU receipts this year are slightly higher, at E7 billion, but even so the Ministry of Finance has said this is not enough to take the country out of the financial crisis. The prince also revealed that the inflation rate was very high as food prices had gone up too.
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