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THE NEXT 3 YEARS TO 2022

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Indeed, government did not have to reinvent the wheel on its Economic Recovery Strategy, the Eswatini Strategic Roadmap 2019-2023. Everything has been said before; take a look at the Economic Recovery Strategy (ERS) of 2011 and the Investor Roadmap of 2012.

Eswatini was battling with the same issues then, and 2019 - 2023 seems to be the time that should be dedicated for serious action because government has only three years to meet the Vision 2022 deadline.


Instead of implementing all of the policies that were laid out to revive the economy since 2011, our government has been making a mess of the G-wallet to reach high levels of unsustainable recurrent expenditure, cost escalations and budget overruns.


The country has been singing the same tired song of a ballooning civil service wage bill, a narrow tax base, inadequate planning, implementation, and management of capital projects as well as ineffective monitoring and evaluation structures and systems.


What’s new for 2019 - 2023? Pretty much nothing, everything can be traced back to the ERS and the Investor Roadmap of 2012 that had been developed by the previous government which decided it would be best to shelve those policies and drive the economy into a fiscal crisis. In fact, the Investor Roadmap was developed in 2005 and re-launched in 2012 to create a favourable investment climate in Eswatini.


Therefore, to fast-track its implementation, it was given to lead agencies/ministries for implementation in 2005. However, as the usual story goes for Eswatini, an audit in 2009 revealed that implementation progress was generally slow with a progress of 19 per cent of implementation in the audit outcomes. So it is a little bit difficult to get excited and carried away by the launch of economic strategies in Eswatini, I guess only time will tell.


Strongly


I have said it before; Eswatini needs a new economic lifeline that will put the country on a winning trajectory. As it is, government has unleashed a war against individuals who dare to earn an income and government strongly believes that it can revive the economy by appropriation of people’s incomes by taxing every last cent of money they spend in the economy.


The Investor Roadmap of 2010/11 was supposed to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) and deliver 35 000 jobs, instead Eswatini’s private sector still leaves a lot to be desired in terms of employment creation. Many of the FDI relocated to greener pastures elsewhere leaving our government to assume the role of the biggest employer.


With the cut on corporate tax, one can only hope that Eswatini will suddenly be a competitive market compared to South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique. The reality is that government is the biggest employer in the economy and is taxing us to the bone just so it can pay civil servants’ salaries and meet its subvention obligations to parastatals every month.


A lot of the money that government takes from our pockets is trapped in these two expenditure items that do nothing to stimulate economic growth.
Eswatini should definitely change how it plays its economic game. The issue is not so much on ideas to cultivate growth of new industries, its more so an administration failure to implement the country’s economic and social policies.


Clearly, the country knows what needs to be fixed and what needs to be done to grow the economy. What is missing to complete this game is the will and commitment at government level to do the right thing and use taxpayers’ money to implement the thousands of policies that are collecting dust in government offices.


When the country faces a problem, government’s immediate response is to set up a commission only to come up with fluffy recommendations that have no real bite.


Take for instance the Public Accounts Committee that has been revealing a lot of rot in the different ministries on salary irregularities in the past week. Whether these squanderers of the G-wallet will be put to task and punished for their actions is a totally different ball game.


Government keeps growing fast every day (with different commissions, parastatals, departments, units, etc) than it is able to grow the real economy. It is time, perhaps, our government thought deeply about its role in delivering the country’s Vision 2022; they owe it to us and we paid for it.

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