By Mbono Mdluli | 2019-02-27
Eswatini has a long way to go in achieving what is known as fiscal transparency.
The country currently sits at three per cent when it comes to fiscal transparency.
This means the country is one of the countries that grossly withhold budgetary information and that make the information inaccessible for the public.
This transpired yesterday during the members of Parliament (MP)s’ Workshop on Budget Literacy, which was held at the Royal Swazi Convention Centre in Ezulwini.
Centre for Economic Analyses (CEA) Director Marjan Nikolov is the one that revealed this information to the MPs, who also sounded shocked at the revelation yesterday.
Nikolov said this was according to the Fiscal Transparency and Open Budget Index of 2017 conducted by International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Nikolov wanted to know if any of the MPs read that report. He did not get an answer to the effect that one or more MPs read the report. The term Fiscal transparency refers to the publication of information on how governments raise, spend, and manage public resources. More specifically, it referes to the publication of high quality information on how governments raise taxes, borrow, spend, invest, and manage public assets and liabilities.
Nikolov further said the country had no room for public participation on budgetary matters.
The country sits at zero percent on that aspect. Such information shocked the MPs, who wanted to know how such information was sourced.
Minister of Agriculture Jabulani Mabuza did not understand how the study could conclude that the country ranked at zero percent when there were MPs who were elected by the people to represent them in Parliament.
Mabuza is an MP from Pigg’s Peak Inkhundla.
The minister’s understanding was that the presence of the MPs meant the people also took part in policy making of the country; hence the people were also involved in the formulation of the budget because the MPs were involved.
However, Nikolov said that could be true, but the people were not directly involved when government formed the budget. By public participation, this means that the public should make an input from the time government formed the budget until it is passed in Parliament.
Some of the MPs were seemingly not satisfied with the response. They were of the view that it was going to be a long process that could prove to be a waste of time.
Meanwhile, the MPs and the government were also advised to ensure that budgetary information should be available online because the people who did their research did not come to Eswatini to do the research. They relied on information on the Internet and if there was no information online, the problems would continue to be there.
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