FINANCE MINISTER’S QUICK FIXES

FINANCE MINISTER’S QUICK FIXES

Minister of Finance Neil Rijkenberg said government could not afford any longer to be the biggest employer, saying that meaningful growth would be achieved by enabling the private sector to lead and do what it does best, which includes growing the economy and creating employment. “Government can no longer be the employer of choice in the Kingdom as it is today. Today, I call on everyone to unify your support for our economic recovery and truly collaborate to build the proud Nation that we all envision and deserve,’’ said the minister as he delivered his
budget speech last week. He said to succeed, the country must stimulate its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), boost local employment and generate higher, sustainable export revenues for the foreseeable future. He highlighted five priority areas that needed to be addressed urgently in order to realise fast economic turn-around:
1. Develop a Fiscal Consolidation Plan and Arrears Funding Strategy,
2. Improve the Ease of Doing Business,
3. Deliver Improved Socioeconomic Impact,
4. Implement an Infrastructure Investment Plan,
5. Build a Culture of Excellence
To reiterate His Majesty’s pronouncement in the Speech from the Throne, Rijkenberg highlighted ICT and Education, Energy and Mining, Tourism, Manufacturing and Agro processing as priority growth sectors in the economy. The
minister said government would do its part to enact new policies and pass the required legislation to de-regulate and open the economy for business. This new, enabling environment will allow the private sector to take the lead,
unlocking results like food security, accessible and affordable internet infrastructure, a renewable energy industry, increased tourism and full utilization Special Economic Zones. The minister said the budget paved the way for wealth creation and distribution, the promotion of a free market economy and ensuring that the country has the appropriate balance between government and the private sector to deliver on its mandate. “By achieving these critical objectives, we will create the necessary environment to grow and thrive. Recent history has shown that spending our way out of an economic crisis is not the solution,” said the minister, adding that it was clear
that tough measures were required to achieve lasting prosperity. He said meaningful growth would be achieved by enabling the private sector to take the lead. Rijklenberg added that the budget sought to ensure that the public sector’s hard-earned taxes and its international partner’s financial support was spent in a sustainable, transparent manner for the betterment of the economy and future generations. He said he stood with great anticipation for a stronger, more prosperous Eswatini. He appreciated international development partners, multilateral organizations and the NGO community, for their support. He said all levels of government would be held accountable for transparent, responsive communication and delivery on responsibilities. “Your technical and financial assistance is invaluable in supporting the economic recovery we speak of today. We acknowledge that in order to receive impactful international assistance, change is required internally,” said the minister, adding that the budget ensured that the necessary social, financial and structural reforms would be achieved, without compromising values as a nation. He said in the next three years they would focus on qualifying for the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) funding. Government would continue collaborating with development partners including, the International Monetary Fund, the African Development Bank, United Nations agencies, the European Union, the World Bank, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the Development Bank of South Africa, USAID, Export Import Bank of India, South African Development Community, Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Government of the Republic of China on Taiwan, the Kuwait Fund, BADEA, the Saudi Fund for Development, OPEC Fund for International Development and all NGOs, just to name a few. “I also take this opportunity to acknowledge the support we have received from all development partners,” said the minister. With government’s commitment to fully
enable and support a private sector led recovery, the minister invited business leaders, both local and international, to engage with a fresh, free market-focused Eswatini. The Public Service Associations and its members are integral to this recovery. I appeal to all our stakeholders to appreciate the current financial
strain and join us in actively engaging to address these challenges. In this new era, the enabling environment will bolster existing businesses and create new local industries to increase exports, which will improve the balance of payments and grow our nation’s revenues. The basis of the budget, said the minister would ensure that the new wealth created, would be distributed throughout all levels of society, truly impacting each Liswati positively.

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