The International Monetary Fund has approved a loan of US$110 million to help Swaziland (eSwatini) as it grapples with the coronavirus crisis.
The Swazi Government had earlier said the coronavirus (COVOD-19) pandemic had devasted the economy and it would be US$207 million short of the budget funds it needed for the present financial year.
It applied to the IMF’s Rapid Financing Instrument scheme.
Announcing the assistance the IMF said, ‘The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified eSwatini’s existing economic and social challenges, leading to a sharp decline in growth and large financing needs.’
The announcement was made on Wednesday (29 July 2020).
The IMF added, ‘The immediate priority is to support public health, vulnerable groups and businesses. Once the impact of the pandemic subsides, it is critical to implement the authorities’ fiscal consolidation plan and structural and governance reforms to ensure debt sustainability and achieve a fast and inclusive recovery.’
The IMF said Swaziland’s economy already faced ‘deep economic and social challenges’ before the coronavirus crisis hit the kingdom in March. Swaziland has been on partial lockdown since then.
The IMF said, ‘Before the pandemic, growth was subdued, the fiscal deficit and public debt were rising, and international reserves declining, amid elevated unemployment and widespread poverty. The pandemic has resulted in a sharp decline in growth and generated large financing needs, magnifying these challenges.’
The coronavirus crisis is worsening in Swaziland. On Wednesday the Ministry of Health announced a record number of positive cases of 147 in a single day. There have been 40 deaths, half of them in the past 14 days. In total 2,551 people have tested positive.
IMF reports Swaziland public debt rising, foreign reserves fallen ‘below adequate levels’