The coronavirus pandemic has hit the Swaziland (eSwatini) economy hard and there is a danger that it will not easily recover over the coming years, Finance Minister Neal Rijkenberg warned in his budget speech.
He told the Swazi Parliament on Friday (26 February 2020) that the ‘widespread effects’ of coronavirus (COVID-19) on the economy had ‘significantly and permanently altered the course’ of the government’s economic plans.
Looking forward, he said, ‘If we do not get the basics right, we will remain in an unsustainable fiscal position and we will see the effects of the pandemic persist over the medium term. This will negatively affect each and every Liswati due to stagnating economic growth, subdued employment creation, lower revenue receipts and higher debt-servicing costs.’
He added, revenues were predicted to decline ‘significantly and steadily over the medium term’. He said, ‘the next three years are going to be even tougher’.
He told Parliament, ‘As we are focusing on growing out of this situation we are in, we need to ensure that government is as effective as possible, doing as much as possible with minimum resources.’
He said, ‘In the domestic economy, the coronavirus pandemic accelerated an economic and fiscal deterioration that was already under way. The lockdowns and weak external demand are expected to have triggered an economic recession in 2020 as economic output is expected to contract by 2.4 percent compared to a growth of 2.2 percent recorded in 2019. The lockdowns effected since mid-March are expected to have impacted domestic demand, particularly manufacturing, tourism, construction and other trade sectors.’
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