Friday, November 18, 2011

SWAZILAND ‘MORTGAGED’ FOR LOAN

Mail and Guardian, South Africa

18 November 2011

SOURCE

Swaziland ‘being mortgaged for loan’

Swaziland's economy could collapse within six months if drastic steps are not taken to reduce the country's enormous wage bill and address the spiralling deficit, a source close to the Swazi government said this week.

The Mail & Guardian understands that to pay public servants their salaries this month, and to avoid mass protests, the cash-strapped government is borrowing money from private financial institutions and using state assets as collateral.

These desperate measures follow the apparent collapse of negotiations for a R2.4-billion loan from South Africa, which Swaziland is believed to have turned down because it rejects conditions relating to democratic reform.

Failure to comply with the fiscal reform recommended by the International Monetary Fund has also cut off Africa's last absolute monarch from loan support from the World Bank, the African Development Bank and Western donors.

A source close to the government said: "The situation is totally unsustainable. I can't see it lasting more than six months like this. They're basically mortgaging their country for this loan, but once that money is spent, they will have no way to pay it back. We're already seeing humanitarian problems with social grants being cut. It's the HIV patients, the elderly, orphans and vulnerable children who are suffering."

To read the full Mail and Guardian report, click here.

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