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International Monetary Fund

The fiscal crisis in the Kingdom of Swaziland emanating from a decline in revenue from the Southern African Customs Union and one of the largest public wage bills in sub-Saharan Africa has reached a critical stage. Faced with revenue shortfalls associated with slowing economic activity, uncontrolled public spending, and lack of financing, the authorities continued to deplete central bank reserves and accumulate domestic arrears. The authorities have been able to finance only a minimal amount of expenditure, including wages, utilities, and essential transfers.

International Monetary Fund

The fiscal crisis in the Kingdom of Swaziland emanating from a decline in revenue from the Southern African Customs Union and one of the largest public wage bills in sub-Saharan Africa has reached a critical stage. Faced with revenue shortfalls associated with slowing economic activity, uncontrolled public spending, and lack of financing, the authorities continued to deplete central bank reserves and accumulate domestic arrears. The authorities have been able to finance only a minimal amount of expenditure, including wages, utilities, and essential transfers.

International Monetary Fund

The fiscal crisis in the Kingdom of Swaziland emanating from a decline in revenue from the Southern African Customs Union and one of the largest public wage bills in sub-Saharan Africa has reached a critical stage. Faced with revenue shortfalls associated with slowing economic activity, uncontrolled public spending, and lack of financing, the authorities continued to deplete central bank reserves and accumulate domestic arrears. The authorities have been able to finance only a minimal amount of expenditure, including wages, utilities, and essential transfers.

International Monetary Fund. African Dept.

KEY ISSUESSetting: Swaziland has gradually recovered from the fiscal crisis of 2010-11, buoyed by the improved revenues from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU). Growth modestly recovered, and international reserves rebounded. Swaziland’s challenges, however, remain significant, in view of its high vulnerability to exogenous shocks and its sluggish growth performance, while facing significant social and development challenges with high unemployment and the prevalence of HIV/AIDS. Swaziland now stands at a critical juncture to strengthen its resilience to exogenous shocks, address its weak growth performance, and meet critical social and development needs.Outlook and risks: Under the status-quo policies, the outlook is for continued sluggish growth and increasing fiscal and external imbalances, reflecting low private investment, elevated government spending, and prospective decline in SACU revenues. Risks are associated with the high volatility of the SACU revenues, possible negative spillovers from South Africa (including higher policy rate and lower growth), and uncertain prospects for preferential trade agreements with the U.S. and EU.Strengthening Resilience to Shocks: Over the medium term, international reserves should be targeted at five to seven months of imports, and public debt be kept below 30 percent of GDP. This calls for a prudent fiscal policy stance, with fiscal deficit below 2 percent of GDP.Raising growth: It is essential to enhance the efficiency of the public sector and promote private sector-led growth through structural reforms including improving business climate and accelerating land reforms.Maintaining financial stability: Financial soundness indicators are generally strong. The strong growth of the nonbank financial sector in recent years calls for strengthening of supervision and regulation for the sector.Past advice: There is broad agreement between the Fund and the authorities on macroeconomic policy and structural reform priorities. With the authorities’ fiscal consolidation efforts and the improved SACU revenues, fiscal and external sustainability is being restored, consistent with staff’s advice. However, progress on structural reforms—including re-launching the privatization process, improving access to modernfinance and improving the business climate—has been modest.

International Monetary Fund

In recent years, the IMF has released a growing number of reports and other documents covering economic and financial developments and trends in member countries. Each report, prepared by a staff team after discussions with government officials, is published at the option of the member country.

International Monetary Fund. African Dept.

This Selected Issues paper assesses Swaziland's export diversification and quality. Swaziland's export structure has experienced sizable changes over the past 15 years. The share of textile exports has halved, and the expiration of trade benefits under Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) implies that the share of textile exports would decline further. Swaziland's exports are relatively diversified with good quality index compared with its peers. However, diversification and product quality have declined in recent years, while the expiration of the access to AGOA calls for enhanced efforts in this area. Improving education and training, strengthening institutional framework, and further developing the financial market will help improve export diversification and quality upgrading.

International Monetary Fund

This Selected Issues paper describes recent economic developments in Swaziland and discusses some of the key issues that have a bearing on the economic outlook and policy debate. The paper examines developments with regard to output and inflation, fiscal policy, monetary policy and financial markets, and the external sector. It elaborates the economic impact of HIV/AIDS. The sources of GDP growth and the outlook are analyzed. The paper also examines the issue of external competitiveness, and describes the finances of the Public Service Pensions Fund.

International Monetary Fund

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.