This 2006 Article IV Consultation highlights that Swaziland’s economic performance has remained weak with growth averaging only 2 percent since 2000, owing to a substantial real appreciation of the lilangeni during 2002–04, erosion of trade preferences, recurrent drought, and stagnant investment. Over that same period, rising government expenditures, especially on the wage bill, undermined fiscal sustainability and reduced foreign reserves to critically low levels. Poverty has escalated in the face of high and rising unemployment, food shortages, and the world’s highest HIV/AIDS infection rate.
The Swazi economy has continued to register sluggish economic activity even as rising Southern African Customs Union revenue contributed to a large fiscal surplus and accumulation of international reserves. The unchecked growth of insufficiently regulated saving and credit cooperatives poses risks to the financial system. Fiscal policy should safeguard priority spending and fiscal sustainability. Executive Directors commend the government’s effort in rebuilding international reserves. Further efforts are needed to improve the quality and timeliness of data to better facilitate policy formulation and monitoring.
Economic growth in Swaziland has weakened over the past decade. This 2005 Article IV Consultation highlights that real GDP growth decelerated to 2.1 percent in 2004 and an estimated 1.8 percent in 2005. A prolonged drought affected agricultural output, particularly maize, the main staple crop, and cotton. The authorities completed a “Poverty Reduction Strategy and Action Plan” in October 2004. The document spells out policies with the overall objective of halving the 1995 poverty rate by 2015. However, little progress has been made toward this and other Millennium Development Goals.