By Bodwa Mbingo | 2020-02-15
Minister of Finance Neal Rijkenberg yesterday tabled an increased E24.1 billion national budget allocation for the 2020/21 financial year with the ministry of education and training once again getting a lion’s share of about E3.2 billion.
The budget for the next financial year, beginning April 1, 2020, is E2.2 billion above the budgeted expenditure for the 2019/20 financial year and shows a 10.6 per cent increase. Deficit, on the other hand, stands at E2.88 billion.
In a speech the minister delivered in exactly one hour, six minutes and 21 seconds, without even a short water break, he asserted that this budget is one designed to improve government’s delivery of services and distribution of resources to all citizens, in particular the vulnerable groups.
He also emphasised that government and the economy cannot live beyond its means year after year. Notably, Minister Rijkenberg explained that the new budget includes an amount of E2.2 billion for public debt payments. Also of note is a budgeted E113m for notching and E227m for a cost-of-living adjustment (CoLA) towards public servants.
The appropriated recurrent expenditure is set to grow by E238 million compared to the 2019/20 financial year, now standing at E16.2 billion. The capital budget allocation is E6.4 billion in 2020/21, which is an increase of 12.4 per cent compared to the 2019/20 financial year. Thus, the total expenditure for financial year 2020/21 is E2.2 billion above the budgeted expenditure for 2019/20, which is a 10.6 per cent increase.
Rijkenberg thanked Their Majesties for the confidence and trust they have placed in him as the custodian of the finance portfolio and, in particular, thanked the King for being a unifying force for the nation and giving government the mandate and direction as articulated in the Speech from the Throne. “His Majesty reminded us that time is of essence in our socio-economic transformation and that, above all else, we must ‘keep moving forward’.
Echoing His Majesty’s speech, there is no time to lose. “In the previous budget cycle, Cabinet outlined a strategy to resuscitate the economy. This led to the launch of the Eswatini Strategic Roadmap 2019-2022 which aims to establish a policy framework that will ensure sustainable economic development, financial stability and growth, ultimately improving the quality of life of the people of Eswatini. This strategy necessitates adjustments in the short to medium term to ensure long term sustainability,” he remarked.
The minister further pronounced government’s commitment to fiscal consolidation by finding ways and means to improve revenue inflows while trying to contain expenditure.
However, he said, fiscal adjustment alone cannot suffice; essential structural reforms in economic policy are integral to the adjustment process. He said the focus of these reforms is on economic growth and stability, hence the need to enable all sectors of the country’s economy to attain a path of high and sustained inclusive growth.
“Even though the focus of this year’s budget continues to be on building a resilient economy through fiscal consolidation, we are starting to see positive signs of growth reflecting a promise of ‘green shoots’. Government has introduced measures to rationalise expenditures and make unavoidable sacrifices to ensure long term growth and fiscal sustainability.
We are rising to this challenge and nurturing the seeds of progress, while ensuring that the preconditions for positive results are created,” the minister added.
Cash flow challenges persist in government
Government continues to face cash flow challenges, causing the country not to meet its financial obligations on time.
Minister of Finance Neal Rijkenberg said this has resulted in the accumulation of significant arrears which has placed a burden on suppliers of goods and services.
He said this time last year, government had accumulated an arrears stock of E4.2 billion.
He said this excluded most arrears on capital projects and what has been referred to as “invoices in the drawers”. “We made it a priority to settle these outstanding payments, and last year, suppliers and service providers were called upon to re-submit these invoices and supporting documents for verification.
The internal audit team and the auditor general’s office are now conducting a verification exercise for these invoices so that the payment process can proceed.
“Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform this House that our efforts are showing signs of success as the total amount owed now stands at E2.2bn. This includes the old arrears, the ‘invoices in the drawers’ and all outstanding capital payments.
We acknowledge that while dealing with existing arrears is part of the problem, our efforts will be in vain unless we ensure that this does not happen in the future,” said the minister.
To curtail and discourage any spending happening outside of the budget and to improve overall budget execution, the minister highlighted that government has instituted a new reporting structure whereby each ministry reports on execution to the Planning and Budgeting Committee once every two months.
He commended his fellow Cabinet ministers and their teams for the efforts that have gone into this process and the great improvement that is showing in this year’s budget spending.
“While Eswatini is in a year of improved SACU receipts, we are committed to stay firm on the demanding course of fiscal adjustment we have set for ourselves.
We will continue intensifying our efforts to eliminate our structural inefficiencies. “We are cognisant of how cyclical buffers in SACU receipts create an illusion which leads to increases in expenditure.
We are committed to using this temporarily larger fiscal head-room to cushion our reserves and meet our payment obligations,” added Rikenberg.
He also disclosed that government is committed to expanding the size and scope of the private sector in Eswatini, pointing out that the Eswatini Strategic Roadmap and the National Development Plan speak volumes to our ambitions in this area.
THE BUDGET ESTIMATES FOR 2020/21
Revenue and grants E21.20 billion
Appropriated recurrent expenditure E16.15 billion
Appropriated capital expenditure E6.38 billion
Total expenditure E24.08 billion
Deficit E2.88 billion
THE BUDGET AT A GLANCE
Foreign Affairs E436.7m
National Treasury E428.6m
Public Service E286.0m
E22Bn Rural electrification phase 26
E1.3Bn International Convention Centre and Five-Star Hotel
E600m Manzini – Mbadlane road
E745.1m Lower Usuthu II Extension – DownstreamDevelopment
E367.9m Manzini Golf Course Interchange
E222m Construction of Factory Shells (Kelloggs, Johnson
E204m Nokwane Biotech, Phocweni IT Parks
E191.9m High Value Crops
E165m Micro-projects Infrastructure Development
E160m Rehabilitation, construction and maintenance of State Houses
E155.2m Ezulwini Water Supply and Sewer
E150m E-Government upgrading
E123.7m Construction of Lukhula – Big Bend Road
E122.5m Manzini region water and sanitation
E120m Rehabilitation and maintenance of feeder roads
E119m Probase Projects
E83.8m Mkhondvo-Ngwavuma Dam
E83.7m Water Harvesting, small and medium dams
E80m Nhlangano – Sicunusa Road
E80m Rehabilitation of Mbabane Govt Hospital
E69.5m Link Roads (Lozitha, Ludzidzini, Mlilwane)
E60m Completion of Buhleni Police Station
E57m Construction of National Referral Hospital
E50m Replacement of army barracks
E50m Rehabilitation of Correctional Facilities
E41m Shiselweni Electrification Project
E40m Nhlangano Water Supply and Sewer
E30.9m Livestock Development Project
E30m Rural Water Supply
E22m Feasibility study for Nondvo Dam
E20m Procurement of diplomats residences (Ethiopia, Mozambique)
E19.3m Rehabilitation of government buildings
E15m Construction of Mankayane Home for the Elderly
E14.3m Expansion of Matsapha Inland Dry Port
E10.8m Rehabilitation of National Parks (Malolotja, Mantenga and Mlawula)
E10m Design and construction of new parliament building
E10m Phuzumoya Strategic Oil Reserve
Post Your Comments Below
The Corporate Research Institute (CRI) has provided relief to small and medium enterprises (SMEs)...
All material © Swazi Observer. Material may not be published or reproduced in any form without prior written permission.
Design by Real Image Internet