Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN)

Agriculture and the national budget: Swaziland
Minister Majozi Sithole
Minister of Finance, Swaziland


  1. Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour once again for me to present the national budget to this Honourable House. The book of Ecclesiastes says that "there is time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven". I thank the Almighty God that he has kept me to see this day. I thank him also that he has kept all of us to continue to contribute our efforts in building this nation. I trust he will be in our midst as we deliberate on this, my 7th budget speech, which is the fourth for this 8th Parliament of this great Kingdom of Swaziland.

  2. His Majesty, in His speech from the Throne declared this "the year of action". The budget I present today is intended to translate this statement into action. It portrays government's commitment in response to the challenges that we are facing as a nation. It touches on a number of areas that are of much concern to the different segments of our society, such as poverty, the fight against HIV/AIDS, welfare of the disadvantaged groups of the society and unemployment. Mr. Speaker, the budget being tabled gives practical suggestions to our problems and in particular, the prioritising of the needs of the poor and less advantaged in society.

  3. Mr. Speaker, it must be noted though that this budget is being presented under extremely difficult economic conditions. The economy of Swaziland has not achieved the desired growth levels of above 5% seen in yester years and indications are that current trends are not going to lead to the desired improvements. Unemployment, low investment levels, food insecurity, coupled with the high HIV/AIDS prevalence continues to pose a major challenge to growth. This makes it difficult for Swaziland to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set for mid-review in New York in 2007.

  4. Mr. Speaker, in spite of the need to continue to spend to address the above mentioned challenges facing our nation, fiscal discipline has to be embedded in our systems to ensure macroeconomic sustainability and to bring back investor confidence in our economy. This is more so in view of the prevailing world market uncertainties, which continue to threaten our economic development. Budget reprioritisation and public sector reform underlie the budget choices that we are pursuing in the medium term.

  5. Mr Speaker, in our pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals, this budget is ensuring that expansion of universal primary education continues. Primary school enrolment has been on the increase, including growth in girls' enrolment, as a result of the free education for all initiative. This has been strengthened by the continued provision of bursaries for the disadvantaged group, the Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC). Let me point out that this is not an easy goal to reach by 2015 and a lot of work is underway, with the assistance of our development partners, directed at improving accessibility and ensuring quality education, at both primary and tertiary levels.

  6. Mr. Speaker, government is committed to ensure that no household is denied access to basic amenities such as clean water and sanitation. The Rural Water and Geology Departments continue to put up borehole facilities in the rural areas where clean water is not easily accessible. Government is also continuing with the rural electrification programme to ensure that rural households are also receiving energy supplies that can enable them to start small businesses.

  7. Mr. Speaker, government has embarked on the expansion of primary health care by including a major programme of rehabilitating, upgrading, and equipping primary health facilities in the country. Over the medium term, 54 clinics will undergo major rehabilitation as part of the national 5-year Health sector development programme. The childhood immunisation programme has been expanded in the remotest areas through mobile clinics. More care is also given towards the reproduction and maternal health care in all the primary health facilities. At the tertiary level, HIV/AIDS treatment programmes are also being rolled out to the rural health clinics as part of the efforts of halting and reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS.

  8. Mr Speaker, the budget also provides for the financing of government policy initiatives such as the constitution rollout programme and the implementation of the Decentralisation Policy. I realise the amount of work that is required towards full implementation of the programmes and the budget makes provision in 2007/08 to allow for full absorption of the implications by the respective line ministries as well as the alignment of the pieces of legislation and policy reform where appropriate.

  9. Mr. Speaker, government's capital expenditure is targeted towards completing existing projects and ensuring that they become fully functional. This has tremendously reduced scope for new projects, as there is a rather large backlog.

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