Wednesday 2023-10-04




By KWANELE DHLADHLA | 2023-04-01

Government has strongly refuted allegations that it uses State assets as collateral when sourcing funding from development partners, particularly the Republic of China (Taiwan).

Minister of Economic Planning and Development, Dr. Tambo Gina, has stated that it would be against dictates of the Constitution of 2005 read with the Public Finance Management Act of 2017 to place State assets as collateral when sourcing funding from the Exim Bank, African Development Bank (AfDB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) or any other financier either for infrastructural or developmental projects in the kingdom.

Dr. Gina’s statement was prompted by an article published by one of the weekly publications regarding financing of the International Convention Centre and Five Star Hotel (ICC and FISH) currently under construction at Ezulwini.

The project has been estimated to cost around E7 billion upon completion.
The minister recounted that a question was raised by Lobamba Lomdzala Member of Parliament, Marwick Khumalo, inquiring as to whether it was true or not that the Exim Bank’s (Taiwan) loan for the construction of the ICC and FISH terms and conditions include pledging the assets (the Convention Centre and the hotel) that would be taken over by Taiwan in the event of default by government in servicing the loan.

Dr. Gina said his response was that it was not true that the International Convention Centre and Five Star Hotel had been pledged as collateral.
The minister said he read the original loan agreement and it did not contain any such requirements.

“The minister is not aware if there are any agreements with such conditions, but it can be categorically stated that the ICC and FISH lines of credit do not involve pledging of assets as collateral in accordance with the laws of the Kingdom of Eswatini, particularly the Public Finance Management Act,” said Dr. Gina.

He lamented that the article and subsequent commentaries had created an erroneous and regrettable disinformation campaign against a loyal and steadfast ally of the Eswatini.
Dr. Gina clarified that Eswatini’s bilateral cooperation with the Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan), which dates back to 1968, was above board and conforms to the Constitution and the country’s laws, especially Section 53 (1) and (2) of the Public Finance Management Act.

“The cooperation also aligns with the cooperation agreements that the country has with other development partners that are providing development assistance to the country,” Dr. Gina explained.

He further stated that the two countries’ governments had over the years signed periodic agreements to guide their cooperation in agreed areas of mutual interest.
The minister said these agreements allocated non-repaid resources (grants) to the kingdom for developmental purposes and cultural heritage.

Adding, he stated that grant assistance had been allocated to the country over the years towards the following areas; The Taiwan Technical Mission, Taiwan Medical Mission, King Mswati International Airport and Bio-Technology Park.

Other projects include agricultural and rural development, human resources development through improved education and health, infrastructural development, information, communication and technology (ICT) and food security.

The minister highlighted that other socio-economic development projects supporting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other objectives of the kingdom’s rural electrification and potable water supply programme.

“The Republic of China (Taiwan) provides tremendous assistance to the government and people of Eswatini expecting nothing other than the love and gratitude of Emaswati,” added Dr. Gina.

During the debate on ICC and FISH funding, Minister Gina was asked by Dvokodvweni MP, Mduduzi Magagula, to give the committee a breakdown of the E800 million for interior works.

The minister explained that E624 447 817, which had been secured through a loan, would be channelled towards ceiling works, floors and greybox and E176 million from local funds would be for interior walls cladding.

He said progress on implementation of the ICC greybox was at 99 per cent.
Dr. Gina said the implementation rate at FISH was estimated at around 55 per cent. Zombodze Emuva MP, Muzi Kunene, was reported to have inquired from the minister if it would not be wise to complete the ICC project since there were rumours of many challenges regarding completion of the FISH aspect.

Dr. Gina stated that there was currently no activity in the Five Star Hotel because the ministry was still in the process of securing an operator to give guidance on the look and feel of the finishes. The minister clarified that there was no budget allocation for FISH for the next financial year and interior works in the convention centre were progressing well.

He said the ministry had managed to make significant strides towards an operator for the hotel. 

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