Friday, October 14, 2011

MYSTERY OVER QATAR ‘LOAN’

South Africa Press Association

13 October 2011

SOURCE

‘Swazis may have turned to Qatar’

Swaziland has not yet signed an agreement for a R2.4 billion loan from South Africa, but it is not clear if it has instead turned to Qatar for aid, the National Treasury said today (13 October 2011).

“All I know is that the document has not been signed. We don't know what the delay is,” Treasury spokeswoman Bulelwa Boqwana said.

“They never came back to sign.”

She was responding to a Daily Sun report that Swazi King Mswati had turned down the loan offer from South Africa and instead struck a deal with Qatar for R10bn in aid.

“An agreement has been reached and it is just a matter of signing,” the newspaper quoted Swaziland Solidarity Network spokesman Lucky Lukhele as saying on Wednesday.

South Africa made the loan offer at the beginning of August. The first tranche was due to be paid on August 31. However, no payment was made because Swaziland has not signed the document.

Various Swazi newspapers had reported that the country had appealed to Qatar for financial help without the conditions South Africa had attached to its loan.

South Africa's loan would have been paid out in three stages, each conditional on fiscal reforms required by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

As part of the agreement Swaziland had to: align its fiscal policy to IMF standards, allow South African experts unhindered access to improve the country's fiscal and budgetary plans, create platforms to attract foreign direct investment, and institute reforms to stabilise Swaziland's economy.

The kingdom was desperate for financial support after losing about 60 percent of its revenue from the Southern African Customs Union, which had slumped due to slowing trade. - Sapa

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