National Budget Must Be Tested Against National Needs

By Ntokozo Nkambule

“The national budget will be faced with an ever-increasing list and complexity of issues, each of which will engender shocks into the economy. We are envisaging global shocks on the horizon,” this is according to the Economics Association of Eswatini (ECAS).

The Association notes that going forward, the National Budget must be tested against national criteria informed by transparent policies which are, in turn, a result of appropriate research.

ECAS was established in 1985 and refers to itself as a platform for promoting interaction among economists and those who are not professional economists but are involved in economic issues daily.

The association made this assertion during the post-budget seminar hosted by the Central Bank of Eswatini (CBE), where the bank had invited various stakeholders from different sectors to engage and converse on the recently tabled national budget.

ECAS notes that the global shocks emanate from a myriad of factors which include direct and indirect shocks in the areas of economic growth, monetary sector performance, fiscal balances, energy prices, consumer price inflation, food security, human migration, nuclear risk, and climate change (especially droughts and floods).

As a result of these global shocks, ECAS is proposing a framework that has three dimensions-the dimensions will help stabilize the economy amid the raging storms. The first proposed dimension is a five-year research programme that has already been adopted by ECAS stakeholders. The first dimension has five themes.

1.     Eswatini Strategic Roadmap.

2.     Macroeconomic Imbalances, Structural Reforms, & Sustainability.

3.     Implications & Impact on Eswatini of Regional Economic Blocs as well as International Trade Relations.

4. Eswatini’s Performance under Agendas 2063 & 2030.

5.     Poverty & Inequities (especially Income, Gender, Regional) in Eswatini.

The association notes that the second dimension has been stalled by the Covid-19 pandemic, and has led to the second dimension pending.

The 3rd dimension is the Review and Prioritization of Research Areas to be in line with the eradication of poverty, unemployment, and inequities. The result is the following updated thematic research list:

1.     Fiscal Consolidation and Debt Sustainability.

2.     Private Sector Development and Growth.

3.     State Involvement in the Economy.

4.     Poverty, Food Insecurity & Inequities.

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