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Do not increase my budget - King

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MBABANE – His Majesty King Mswati III has asked government not to increase his budget allocation until the country’s financial position improves.

Money allocated to the King is referred to as ‘royal emoluments’.

The king’s request for a budget freeze has been made public by Finance Minister Majozi Sithole in an interview with CNN journalist Victoria Eastwood and he reiterated it to the Times of Swaziland yesterday.

The interview with Eastwood was done in August during the annual Reed Dance Ceremony but was first published on October 19, 2012.

"I can assure you that his Majesty and the Royal Family never overspend on what they have been allocated. If there are any challenges then they are in other ministries," Sithole said in response to Eastwood’s question.

"Those who would blame it on His Majesty do not have the information, he never overspends, we discuss the fiscal challenges on a weekly basis, I brief him, he has concerns and he will, as he did this year, say whatever you do don’t even increase my budget because I understand the fiscal situation."

When speaking to this reporter yesterday, the minister said this was exactly what he had told the CNN journalist and that he stood by his words.

"His Majesty’s money is audited by the Auditor General who then gives a report to the King’s Officer. The Chief Officer in the King’s Office then discusses it with the Royal Board of Trustees."

Majozi said the Royal Board of Trustees has the same functions as the Public Accounts Committee except that it focuses on royal expenditure while the latter focuses on government spending.

The minister further clarified what he meant by saying if there were any challenges regarding over expenditure, they were in government ministries.

"Most of the time, it is ministries that overspend, hence you find that principal secretaries (who are the financial controllers) have to appear before the Public Accounts Committee to explain how the money was spent. That is why we also have to do a supplementary budget; it’s because ministries overspend," Majozi said.

The king’s budget freeze request is in line with government’s commitment to reduce the country’s wage bill following Swaziland’s financial problems caused mainly by a drastic drop in SACU revenue and the global economic downturn.

Politicians including Cabinet ministers, members of parliament and members of various advisory councils also took a 10 percent salary cut in a bid to ease the financial burden on government.

However, civil servants have resisted attempts by government to slash their salaries by as much as 4.5 percent.

 

Instead, they staged protests to force government to offer them a 4.5 percent salary hike, which government has, to date, also rejected.

 

 

 

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