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LEGACY OF FISCAL CRUNCH?

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IT is quite ironic that the outgoing Members of Parliament will be leaving government in a fiscal crunch. Yet, come October they will be cashing in on their exit packages, leaving government in a bigger financial hole.

Even to the layman on the street – who is not privy to what really goes on behind government’s closed doors – it is quite obvious that government is really in a bad financial state. The G-wallet is in a crisis, and unfortunately, the ordinary liSwati then has to suffer the consequences of the mismanagement of public funds. You and I have to folk out more of our hard-earned money to bail out government as you will see with the taxes that will be introduced or increased going forward into the 2018/19 financial year.


The truth is; everyday government collects money. Think of the various border posts where people import goods to Eswatini, add the VAT we pay on almost everything we buy in the country, think about the fuel tax we pay when we fill our fuel tanks and think of the income tax every working person pays to contribute to government’s revenue streams.


In short, there is enough money trickling into the G-wallet on a daily basis, yet it seems to quickly evaporate through the many government financial obligations that have culminated into the current fiscal crunch.


We pick up from the grapevine that even to meet some of these financial obligations, such as civil service salaries, among many other cash-vapourisers within government, perhaps some monies make their way into the G-wallet through hush-hush undercover streams from the Public Service Pension Fund.


Maybe there are other hush-hush funds government is tapping into that we will soon learn of? Whether this is true or not, it is clear that government is playing a game of robbing Peter to pay Paul, which is completely unnecessary and crippling the economy as whole.Why not use the money collected through SRA for investments in the economy that can increase people’s incomes and hence contribute to more money headed for the G-wallet?


Just like the rest of us who are feeling the pinch of an increasing cost of living in Eswatini, government too, is living from paycheque to paycheque. To get out of the financial hole, government needs additional income. This is because all the money being collected is coming in already having been spent.


It would be a different story if the country would be facing a fiscal crunch having paid for things that really matter, for example, the Phalala Fund, equipment, doctors, and medicines in our own hospitals, and diverting more money to offer scholarships to deserving students and making sure that free primary school fees allotments are made on time.


The situation is getting to a point where it is just exhausting to read on front page news that government hasn’t paid for something critical with the different public services, let alone the money owed to South African hospitals. Would it hurt to prioritise E120 million out of the E14 billion that government collects from the economy? Would it really hurt to prioritise the health of our people among all the other monies wasted, for example, through fuelling government vehicles running useless errands and meetings across the country?
I think we all want to stand behind government and support it in developing our country so that everyone can enjoy an improved standard of living.


Everyone wants to pay tax if the tax we pay will in turn build us hospitals, make sure that no high school graduate misses out on tertiary education because they cannot afford to pay tuition fees, pay a cost of living monthly grant to the elderly, and on the whole give us quality and timely public services.


It is not really pleasant to be contributing to the G-wallet in all the taxes that we pay when our own personal lives and standard of living keeps regressing to the gutter. Every bit of money that government takes from our pockets should be to make our lives richer and more comfortable. 


I want to believe that nothing written here is news to government. Government must simply do the right thing and start spending money on programmes/items that matter in terms of improving every single person’s life in the kingdom and stop stifling the development strides the country has taken since independence. 


With a new government and Parliament coming into office in the next few months, government must give people something positive to talk and write about, something positive that can increase the number of businesses and employment opportunities in the country, and the ability for every liSwati to be able to earn a decent income without having to subsidise SRA’s ridiculous monthly tax collection targets.

Yes, government must and should collect tax to push the country forward, but let us see that money being put into good use! Government is perfectly capable of managing a realistic and successful budget.

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