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Eswatini report: Ministers must tighten belts to help lift economy

Finance Minister Neal Rijkenberg said in February the kingdom was facing an “unprecedented economic crisis".

FILE: King Mswati III of Eswatini. Picture: GCIS

MBABANE - One of the ways in which the Kingdom of Eswatini is looking to revive its economy is through the possibility of cutting cabinet ministers’ housing, travel and entertainment allowances.

A Royal Commission tasked with investigating how politicians are remunerated in the landlocked country - formerly known as Swaziland - submitted recommendations in August, including ending first-class travel for ministers except for Prime Minister Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini and his deputy.

The recommendations, tabled before cabinet and awaiting Royal approval, also call for housing allowances to be cut to 12.5% of annual salaries from 25%, so cabinet ministers would get 7,719 emalangeni per month for this purpose instead of 15,349 emalangeni.

Entertainment allowances would be cut 7% to 1,852 emalangeni, and in addition the prime minister and his deputy would contribute 33% towards their medical cover.

Eswatini Finance Minister Neal Rijkenberg said in February the kingdom was facing an “unprecedented economic crisis” and was set to continue faltering as it faces slowing rates of foreign investment and a fast-growing wage bill.