30 January 2018

Swaziland: Kingdom Gets 3/100 On Budget Openness

Swaziland scored a mere three points out of 100 in a global review of its budget transparency.

The kingdom ruled by King Mswati III as sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch received zero points in a section on public participation as there were no opportunities for the public to engage in budget processes.

The scores are revealed in the 2017 Transparency Open Budget Survey produced by the International Budget Partnership (IBP).

While Swaziland scored three points, neighbouring South Africa scored 89.

In an 80-page report IBP revealed that the Swaziland legislature provides weak oversight of the budget. In Swaziland political parties are banned from taking part in elections and the Prime Minister, Cabinet and top judges and public servants are all chosen by the King.

IBP said the Swazi parliament was unable to discuss the budget properly because it was not provided with sufficient information. It said the government's budget proposal should be available two months before the start of the budget year.

The IBP collaborates with civil society around the world to use budget analysis and advocacy as a tool to improve effective governance and reduce poverty.

This is not the first time that budget transparency in Swaziland has been criticised. The United States State Department in its annual Fiscal Transparency Report regularly points out the kingdom's deficiencies. In its 2017 report it said, 'Swaziland's fiscal transparency would be improved by: providing more detail on expenditures and revenues in the budget, particularly for off-budget accounts, natural resource revenues, and royal family expenditures; subjecting the entire budget to audit and oversight; demonstrating applicable laws are followed in practice for awarding natural resource extraction contracts and licenses; and making basic information on natural resource extraction awards publicly available.'

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