21 February 2019
The Minister of Finance Neal Rijkenberg is urged by the Coordinating Assembly of Non-Governmental Organisations (CANGO) to deliver a pro-poor budget in his first budget speech.
“CANGO would like to see a budget which is responsive to the needs of the population especially as it addresses poverty, vulnerability of certain groups of the country and of course resources allocated to stimulate the ailing economy.
In this regards resources to address social services to cater for the needs of the vulnerable is critical,” its Communications Officer Nkosingiphile Myeni said.
Myeni said CANGO as an umbrella noted that the budget is an important instrument government use to allocate national resources and have a role as NGOs to engage governments on national budgets and offer an alternative in order to amplify needs of communities in the grassroots they represent.
A pro-poor budget, he said, must be related to the extent to which expenditure is aligned to public policy with focus on the high levels of poverty alleviation aligned to the ‘leaving no one behind’ agenda. It is further characterised by significant allocation of resources to sectors which directly reach the poor and vulneurable groups. He said such policies in turn enable the poor to have access to economic, financial and social opportunities to reduce inequality gaps.
“It is therefore our hope that there will be significant allocations towards education through provision FPE, scholarships and OVCs, health and agriculture, job-creation as well as social protection to ensure an inclusive growth, we implore government to also allocate resources to institutions such as the Anticorruption Commission in order to fight the corruption.” he said.
Government should ensure that revenue sources are diversified from the SACU pool to reduce dependency for its revenue as the pool is volatile, Myeni averred. However, increasing taxes in such as a state of the economy might be suicidal for the government.
He said the Minister of Finance who may consider increasing business licence fees, sin tax, fuel levy, set up tollgates, motor vehicle and driver’s licence fees and mobile telephone licence fees, to name a few must be done in a manner that don’t overburden tax payers who are already in financial difficulties. The Minister should also focus attention in productivity and human right centred delivery of services.
In contrast, he said, government must ensure that new jobs are created. He also said business activity must be encouraged through policies which enable business growth by prioritising SMEs and FDI as well as ensure that businesses which are already in the country stay and expand in order to see its tax-base increase.
“Government should also prioritise paying owed, review its tax regime to encourage the sector be of focus There is also a need for the country to focus on youth employment and entrepreneurship and expand accessibility to the youth fund as well as business incubators for youth.
He also said government must invest in agriculture in line with the Maputo Declaration where governments pledged to commit 10% of budgets be allocated to developing the agricultural sector to enable subsistent farmers who produce a surplus have access to markets.
“It is time government delivered more with less resources by ensuring that accountability is high,” Myeni said.
Some of the strategies to be considered
Implementation/Action Relevant Strategy
1. Strengthen governance Uphold international human-rights based standards, as espoused in international instruments, Constitution. Respect for the Rule of Law and, separation of powers to strengthen accountability
2. Show commitment to eliminating corruption Allocate resources for the Anti-Corruption Commission to effectively play its role
3. Reduce the bloated civil service Introduce Early Retirement and freeze all non-essential posts in the civil service
4. Engagement of citizens in the budget-process to ensure relevant and cost-effective budget Implement the 2017/18 Open Budget Survey (OBS) resolutions by the International Budget Partnership (IBP) to improve previous score
5. Sustain social services, including elderly grants, VOCs, FPE and tertiary scholarships
6. Repeal all laws in conflict with the Constitution which have harmful customs and discriminate against women, depriving them of the right to equality before the law to ensure EQUALITY BEFORE THE LAW Institute a law review commission
Codify Swazi Law
Custom to eradicate inequality and better protect the rights of women
Act upon SDG 5 indicators: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
7. Address the land issue to make land accessible to people in Swazi Nation Land and protect the dignity and human rights of farm-dwellers Implement the land policy in compliance with human rights standards and address Agenda 2030 land-related SDGs, 1, 2, 5, 11 and 15
Pass into law and implement the Farm Dwellers (Amendment) Bill
8. Reduce GBV through an integrated strategy Provide resources to the DPMO for the implementation of Gender policy
allocate resources for duty bearers, including the police and courts to prosecute
9. Allocate resources to the DPMO to enable it to do civic education and campaigns on the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Act (2018) in order to sensitise communities and citizens about the importance of the bill in order to reduce cases of domestic violence and gender-based violence.
10. Commit to allocating at least 10% of the annual budget towards agriculture Commit to the Maputo Declaration
11. Commit to allocating 15% of the annual budget to improve the Health sector Commit to the Abuja Declaration
12. Encourage climate smart agriculture Commit to the Paris Agreement
13. Address the issue of undocumented children and strengthen birth registration processes in order to reach out to children who have not been able to get access to FPE and other social services because of lack of Personal Identity Numbers (PIN)
14. Allocate and sustain FPE on age-base of 15 years than grade base (Grade 7) to enable children who have been out of school to still get education even if they start later than the normal age of entry
15. Create and implement a child-friendly campaign on the rights of children in order to make children’s rights be known to both children, parents and guardians.
16. Heed to the recommendations of election observers, local and external, on the recently held elections
17. Provide enough support and capacity towards women to empower them to participate in decision-making structures and remove barriers on women participation Allocate towards the mainstreaming of gender within government
18. Review the quota on women in political participation from 30% to 50% SADC Protocol on Gender and Development; SDG 5
19. Ensure that EBC personnel are capacitated in equity-base principles from the time of nomination to give women, youth and disabled fare chances on being nominated, elected and represented Allocate resources towards the EBC
Institute a citizen’s budget.
Press Release: CANGO comments to the Govt Press Secretary on dismissal of Eswatini corruption report as fake
09 May 2019
MBANE: In a press statement released by Communications Officer Nkosingiphile Myeni on Thursday, CANGO has responded to comments made by the Government Press Secretary Percy Simelane’s dismissal of the credibility of the US State Department report on corruption in the Kingdom of Eswatini as follows:
“The Economic and Budget Forum (EBF) under the auspices of the Coordinating Assembly of NGOs (CANGO) is concerned by the alleged Government Press Secretary Mr Percy Simelane’s reactions to the USA-released report highlighting increased levels of corruption in the Kingdom of Eswatini.
“If anything is to go by the news articles carried out in Page 13 of the Times of Swaziland, of Thursday 9 May 2019, the statement by the Press Secretary seemingly denounces that corruption has in fact increased in the country to alarming rates, reaching endemic levels. No amount of spin to positively project the country’s image without acknowledging the reality on the ground that in fact corruption has blown out of proportion can remove such perceptions.
“Many events have decried the amount of corruption tolerance. He should just own up.
“This is despite national commitments through signing the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption and Related Offences, and the SADC Protocol against Corruption, Prevention of Corruption Act (2007) which established the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the Public Procurement Act (2010).
“A national corruption perception survey published in 2017 by the ACC found that 79 percent of respondents perceived government to be corrupt whereas 49 percent believed corruption to be sometimes beneficial. ACC representatives acknowledged a widespread public perception that the ACC was ineffective largely because of a lack of financial and human resources and the general backlog of cases in the court system.
“Also, the events of June 29, 2018 where hundreds of workers’ in demonstration led by TUCOSWA petitioning the government on many grievances including the high levels of corruption and anti-tax hikes; the sentiments by the national police Deputy Commissioner Mumcy Dlamini that E30 million was lost through banking fraud as well as the 2017 Auditor General’s report raising numerous government’s accountability irregularities point out a negative picture and that many perceive corruption to be rampant in the country.
“In corruption prevention and education awareness efforts, the ACC conducts dozens of sensitisation workshops and meetings around the country, provide educational materials to schools, and conduct broadcasting programmes.
“It is worrying that there is slow prosecution of corrupt individuals.
“Regarding the alleged comments that Emaswati are among happiest nations in the world, Mr Simelane seems to be living in another country where ordinary people’s struggles do not matter as long as a privileged few must enjoy life.
“Emaswati are facing many challenges. About 70% of the population live below the Dollar a day, there is high youth unemployment, lack of service delivery, elderly grants are delayed and the lack of implementation of decent minimum wage.
“It is the poor who end up paying the high price if funds initially budgeted for services such as health, education, clean water end up illicitly diverted to the advantage of a greedy few.
“While it is not uncommon for essential drugs stock outs, delayed social grant payments, to mention a few, often happening, this must not be a norm.
“We as part of civil society and being cognizant of the struggles of the ordinary people are calling for a national movement against corruption.
“Concurring with the report, corruption in this country is extremely high and perpetrators should be prosecuted.
“We advocate for the ACC to be given the necessary resources to effectively do its work.
“We call upon a responsive justice system, cognizant of the fact that no country can develop if it fails to tackle its challenges head on.
“The report helps us as a country to reflect on our challenges prompting us to do better, not to dismiss it as a fake report.
“If nothing is done, the country is not going to be able to achieve Vision 2022,” the statement said.
The EBF is a structure under CANGO whose objective is to advocate for a consultative dialogue, citizen participation and engagement mechanisms with national stakeholders in matters of the national economy and budget. EBF aims to strategically influence government budgetary process through activities which promote the principles of human-rights based approach.
Contact Nkosingiphile Myeni