Swaziland fails to meet social spending targets: IMF
The IMF said Thursday it wants the cash-strapped Swaziland to spend more efficiently in the health and education sectors, while making cuts in defence and in public servant's travel.
“The IMF Staff-Monitored Program envisaged protecting social spending through targets on the minimum amount of spending on education and health. Those targets were not met at end June 2011,” Joannes Mongardini, the International Monetary Fund mission chief for Swaziland, said in a statement.
Mongardini however criticised “expenditure overruns” with respect to “wages and salaries, defence, and travel budgets”, in the budget covering April to June 2011.
On Wednesday the IMF monitoring mission gave Swaziland a negative report on its progress toward improving its finances, a third negative assessment in year.
King Mswati’s cabinet has been reluctant to force through salary cuts recommended by the IMF after fierce resistance by trade unions and a series of mass demonstrations by public-sector workers earlier this year.
The report dashed hopes for the impoverished southern African kingdom of accessing much-needed international loans. Without the IMF’s blessing, international lenders like the World Bank and African Development Bank are unlikely to extend loans.
Swaziland’s Finance Minister Majozi Sithole on Wednesday said the IMF targets were unreasonable, and that the kingdom would still be able to access a 2.4 billion rand ($343 million, 237 million euro) rescue loan promised by South Africa.