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8 March 2011 | Lindsay Clark
A leading African think tank has slammed
Swaziland’s recent budget for a lack of control and accuracy in spending data.
Swaziland, which borders Mozambique and South
Africa, is struggling with a dramatic fall in revenue from the Southern African Customs Union, which
collects and shares import duty between South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana,
Namibia and Swaziland.
This source of funding, which makes more than
half the nation’s revenue, fell by 62 per cent last year. As a result, the
government has proposed cuts in public spending.
Thembinkosi Dlamini, analyst with independent
think tank Idasa, criticised the government for making cuts based on poor
financial data. “There is no sense that there is a credible system of cashflow
management that can anticipate revenue inflows with greater precision,” he
He said in an opinion paper that the government
needed to ensure a “more systematic expenditure management system is in place
to ensure that critical operations like hospitals, schools and emergency care
services are always fully functional”.
He went on to criticise a lack of
detail and context in government spending data. “Swaziland must be one of very few countries in sub-Saharan Africa that
presents a budget with only figures and no narrative explanation of the policy
priorities for each spending unit. There are no performance indicators or reporting
on performance against indicators, or even any appreciation of the challenges and
The result, he said,
was that the government had no measure of value for money. “The monitoring and
evaluation function is more input driven and lacks reflection on the outcomes
Nations resident coordinator for Swaziland, Musinga Bandora, praised the
budget, which promises massive cuts in public spending. “The wide-ranging
measures elaborated, those of restoring fiscal sustainability and promoting
growth, of reducing and redirecting expenditure, of curtailing waste and
fighting corruption, promoting efficiencies as well as boosting internal revenue
collection are laudable,” he said.