STATEMENT BY THE RT HON PRIME MINISTER,

H.E. AMBROSE MANDVULO DLAMINI

AT THE PUBLIC FILING OF INCOME TAX RETURNS 2019 

CABINET OFFICES, MBABANE

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Honourable Ministers

Eswatini Revenue Authority Commissioner General, Management and Staff

Senior Government officials

Representatives of the Business Community

Members of the media

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

It is my honour to join you here today to publicly submit my personal income tax return for the year ended 30 June 2019, in compliance with the Kingdom of Eswatini’s Income Tax Order of 1975 as amended.

Traditionally, I would have visited the Eswatini Revenue Authority offices to deliver my income tax return. However, the Revenue Authority has made things easier for all Emaswati who have access to internet to simply submit their returns in the comfort of their offices or homes.

The activity today is an attestation of the Eswatini Revenue Authority drive to modernize revenue mobilization in line with their vision of 100% voluntary compliance towards a better Kingdom of Eswatini.

It can be recalled that when the Eswatini Revenue Authority started the online filing initiative in 2015, its focus was only those businesses registered for the Value Added Tax (VAT). It is gratifying that the Eswatini Revenue Authority has made great strides in ensuring that all major tax types and taxpayer segments are accommodated as part of this improvement. In the current year, companies and individuals cannot only submit their returns online, but this platform allows them to view statements and lodge queries.

It is however disheartening to learn that the level of compliance for returns filing for income tax is at 46.7%, which is too low, compared to 63.8% and 85.1% for Pay As You Earn and VAT, respectively. The online platform we have just witnessed today will surely enhance our filing compliance level, and I therefore encourage all individuals and businesses to contact the Eswatini Revenue Authority and register for the e-Tax platform.

It should be a sense of pride and a pledge of support to the continuous development of our country for all Emaswati to pay tax. These are the funds utilised by Government to provide public services that enhance the standard of living for citizens and set us on a trajectory of sustained economic growth and stability. Such services include; free primary education, public infrastructure, health, social welfare and emergency relief, among many others.

I am reliably informed that online filing is compulsory in some jurisdictions and the Eswatini Revenue Authority has made it compulsory only for Large Taxpayers in the current year.

I must say, with the advent of fourth industrial revolution we have to align ourselves as country to reap its benefits, failing which our development will be curtailed by the massive changes it brings forth. This will not only improve tax compliance, but also our rating in the World Bank’s Ease of doing Business Index as our target is to be in the top 10 in Africa to attract meaningful investment in order to grow our economy in line with our Strategic Roadmap.

It is worth reminding the public that filing of returns is one aspect of tax compliance and the main part of the chain is the payment compliance. In this regard, may I thank all those individuals and entities who consistently submit and make their tax payments on time. We sincerely appreciate them for honouring their legal obligation for the sustainability of our beautiful Kingdom.

Having said that, the rate at which the country’s tax debt is increasing is a cause of serious concern. As the end of the Fiscal Year 2018/19, the tax debt increased by approximately 31% to E4.54 Billion from E3.46 Billion in 2017/18. This is a result of non-payment of liabilities from returns submitted for various tax types including income taxes, Pay As You Earn and VAT.

May I implore the Eswatini Revenue Authority to embark on a campaign to ensure that the tax debt is substantially reduced in line with its domestic resource mobilization plans. To all those taxpayers who still owe the State, I encourage them to present themselves to the Eswatini Revenue Authority and honour their legal obligations, because not doing so is not only depriving the country growth opportunities, but may have negative consequences for their businesses. Paying tax is mandatory and not optional.

As I conclude, may I pass Government’s sincere gratitude to all partners who continue to support Eswatini Revenue Authority in dealing with complex revenue mobilization issues. I can mention in particular the International Monetary Fund (IMF), African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) and the World Customs Organization.

May I once again, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, encourage all individuals and businesses who are preparing to submit their returns for the year ended 30 June 2019 to register for e-Tax with the Revenue Authority and submit their tax returns on time and online.

Thank you.

GOVERNMENT OF THE KINGDOM OF ESWATINI

COAT OF ARMS

PRIME MINISTER’S STATEMENT

13 November 2019

Government wishes to emphasize that the continued attack on His Majesty the King in relation to the purchase of vehicles particularly the Rolls Royce fleet is misinformed. These vehicles were purchased privately and not through the public purse. No money from the National Budget went to the purchase of these cars.

Government takes full responsibility of the purchase of the BMW VIP and escort vehicles. As previously stated, the purchase of this fleet is in line with Government policy to replace cars after five years. Most of the VIP and escort vehicles being replaced now are 11 years old and others are no longer roadworthy. Older vehicles cost Government substantially in repairs. Government saves a lot of money from having a newer fleet because it comes with a warranty and service plan.

Government receives the public criticism regarding the purchase of the vehicles given the current financial situation in the country.  It is worth noting that the decision to replace the fleet was taken in July 2018 before austerity measures were put in place. A commitment was made with the supplier at that time hence the agreement could not be reversed now as doing so could lead to litigation which would come with adverse consequences for Government.

To this end, Government has been consistent in implementing the austerity measures and remains committed to doing so until our economy improves. We believe that Government is on the right track to achieve this, and would like to thank the public for the support we have been given since austerity measures were put in place in the past year.

Government has a Strategic Roadmap in place that serves as the master plan for all efforts towards improving our economy. It would be in the best interest of the country for all of us to be prepared to work together to ensure successful implementation of this strategy because it is at the axis of the socio-economic evolution of this country. We need to unite to uplift the standard of living for all Emaswati. This is no time to grow apart as a Nation.

Government appreciates the loyalty and commitment of the Nation particularly Civil Servants who have continued to work and service the Nation. We would like to appeal to all tertiary institutions to understand that the delay in paying allowances for Government sponsored students was caused by the transition from cheques to modern modes of monetary transactions - not cashflow challenges.

Government will continue to take Health, Education, Youth and the Elderly with the seriousness they all deserve despite the current financial constraints.  Government has been able to save from the Elderly Grant Verification Exercise it carried out early this year. It is therefore worth mentioning that:

  • Elderly grants will be increased to E500 from E400 a month.
  • Disability grants will increase from E180 to E280
  • Government is committed to ensuring that civil servants get their Cost of Living Adjustment in April next year. Pensioners will soon get their Cost of Living Adjustment.
  • Government sponsored students have already been paid E30 million as allowance for the past three months and will get their book allowance before the end of the month.
  • English will remain compulsory in schools but will no longer be a passing subject.
  • The Youth Fund Board will soon be finalizing a second round of business start-up funding with the first round disbursed in March this year having already created 190 jobs.
  • Government has availed a loan guarantee scheme to the value of E140 million for SME financing that local SME’s can now apply for.
  • The Ministry of Public Works and Transport is establishing a Road Agency Fund to ensure all our roads are properly maintained.
  • A sum of E82.2 million has been released to the Rural Development Fund.
  • Government has released all funds budgeted for medicines to the Ministry of Health to ensure consistent supply to the end of the financial year.
  • Government will provide a 50% subsidy to about 5800 farmers of maize, beans and sorghum who have applied for the Farm Input Subsidy Programme. This subsidy covers the purchase of seeds, fertilizer and lime.
  • Tractor hire services have been made available for all farmers for this farming season.

However, we note that opportunists have taken advantage of the current situation to ridicule the Head of State through misinformation that serves their own agendas. Government notes the proliferation of misguided utterances on social media and international media forums and would like to advise Emaswati to refuse to be drawn by elements that intend to destabilise the peace synonymous with our Kingdom.

We respect and recognize the rights of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. These rights do not extend to hate speech, inciting violence or supporting organisations that have been proscribed for terrorist activities in the Kingdom.

Any persons considering taking part in protest action should ensure that they do not violate the Suppression of Terrorism Act of 2008 as amended, or the Public Order Act of 2017 or any other law. Violations of the law will be prosecuted.

It is the responsibility of all Emaswati to respect and protect the integrity of the King and Ingwenyama as Head of State. Government will not tolerate statements that are demeaning to the person of His Majesty and the institution of the Monarchy. We appeal to all Emaswati to always project the respect for which we are proudly known for as we have no other country but Eswatini. Currently the Nation is in the season of Incwala where we expect all Emaswati to respect our tradition.

His Majesty’s Government is committed to protecting the peace and stability Eswatini has always been known for globally. We shall always be open to advice and criticism when our decisions are challenged.

 

Mr. Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini                                  

Prime Minister       

Kingdom of Eswatini

STATEMENT BY H.E. THE RT HON PRIME MINISTER

 MR AMBROSE MANDVULO DLAMINI

 AT THE ESWATINI PROCUREMENT INDABA AND GALA DINNER

 ROYAL SWAZI SPA CONVENTION CENTRE

 Wednesday 06 November 2019

 

Your Royal Highnesses

Honourable Ministers

Board of Directors of the ESPPRA

Commissioner General of the Eswatini Revenue Authority

Senior Government officials

Chief Executive Officer, management and staff of ESPPRA

Representatives of the World Bank and African Development Bank

Investors, Donor Agencies and Financiers

Representatives of Parastatals

Captains of Industry

Representatives of the Eswatini business sector

Members of the media

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good evening

I am honoured to join all of you this evening for this Eswatini Procurement Indaba dinner, marking the end of an important two day session of robust engagement.

The deliberations you held in the past two days may be long overdue, but are crucial in ensuring that procurement is consciously used as a vehicle to accelerate economic revival efforts and improve the lives of all Emaswati.

The World over, Governments are strengthening the processes, checks and balances of public procurement to help deliver public services with efficiency, ensuring public confidence in government is protected and enhanced.

A significant amount of government expenditure globally and especially in developing countries, is spent on the procurement of goods and services in order to achieve government’s social obligations to the citizenry. Governments are therefore a major player in public procurement and, with this buying power, are better poised to influence the conduct of public procurement. This is no different in our country.

Research has shown that the value of public procurement in the Kingdom of Eswatini is substantial and stood at E14 billion last year. This means a sizeable percentage of the national budget goes to public procurement, and a number of local companies, especially SMME’s, rely on government business to succeed and attain growth.

It therefore goes without saying that public procurement plays a pivotal role in national development and sustainable economic growth.

His Majesty’s Government views public procurement as a strategic function which can be leveraged to revitalize our economy. This can only be achieved when the procurement processes are transparent, consistent and efficient. It is fundamental and, of course, imperative to create a clear, effective and unambiguous procurement system devoid of clumsy bureaucratic procedures that impede fair competition.

In the process of fast-tracking economic renewal and sustainable growth, Government has identified public procurement as one of the strategic focus areas in the Government’s Strategic Roadmap 2018-23. We are cognizant of the need to forge viable partnerships with the private sector to enhance innovation and leverage on their business expertise to better achieve efficient public service delivery.

Government is currently looking at several procurement interventions, namely; using procurement as a tool for rationalising government expenditure, using the Private Public Partnership (PPP) model as an alternative model of financing government projects, and using procurement as a mitigating tool for corruption.

 

 

Government’s financial position does not always allow for the implementation of important national projects, hence widening the base of sourcing finance remains a viable option. Many Governments are attracted to the PPPs model since it has the capability of providing quality infrastructure and accessible public services without over stretching the public purse.  However, like many other financing models, there is always a need to align its advantages to the prevailing economic situation of the country to ensure it remains a useful financing tool.

One of the major challenges of Government procurement is its uncanny ability to inadvertently invite corruption. I hope your deliberations have identified all the gaps that unfavourably project procurement as the perfect platform for inducing bribes or inflating prices, and all forms of corruption. We cannot normalise such a scenario, and Government is determined to root out corruption with zero tolerance.  And to achieve that, both the public and private sector have an ethical role to play.

May I take this time to emphasize that Government is unyielding in its endeavour to ensure that all proceeds of corruption, and any other criminal activity, are traced and forfeited to the State. Government is aware that, if properly carried out, public procurement can be used as a tool to deter corruption. We look upon ESPPRA to ensure that public procurement follows all the necessary regulations and laws.

The role of Public Procurement Regulations as an enhancer, and not a deterrent of public procurement, cannot be over emphasized.

Programme Director, distinguished guests, may I take this opportunity to thank all of you for the insightful presentations and ideas you have shared over the course of this historic Indaba. My gratitude also goes to the organisers of this event for putting together such a compelling programme. This has enabled Eswatini to pave the way for public procurement to be used as a tool to deliver the best value for money in boosting economic growth.

Thank you. May God bless us all. 

MINISTRY OF PUBLIC WORKS AND TRANSPORT

 

PRESS STATEMENT

Escort vehicles

The Ministry of Public Works and Transport is taking this opportunity to inform the public that it has taken delivery of a fleet of cars and motorcycles for escort duties.

The process to replace the existing fleet started in 2016, consistent with the prevailing Government policy of replacing Government vehicles after five years.

The purchasing of the fleet went through the tender process in line with Government policy. An order was made to the manufacturer in July 2018 at the finalization of the tender process.

Chief Ndlaluhlaza Ndwandwe

Minister of Public Works and Transport

08 November 2019

STATEMENT BY H.E. THE RT HON PRIME MINISTER,

 

MR AMBROSE MANDVULO DLAMINI

 

AT THE LAUNCH OF THE 2019 NATIONAL PREVENTION POLICY FOR THE KINGDOM OF ESWATINI

 

ROYAL VILLAS, EZULWINI

 

Wednesday 06 November 2019

Your Royal Highnesses

Honourable Ministers

Members of both Houses of Parliament

Regional Administrator

UNAIDS Regional Director

Excellencies Members of the diplomatic corps

Senior Government officials

NERCHA Council Chairperson and members

NERCHA Director, management and staff

Representative of the Young Network of Positive

Members of the media

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

It is my honour to be here today on behalf of His Majesty’s Government to launch the National Prevention Policy for the Kingdom of Eswatini and the 2019 World AIDS day campaign.

Today’s launch of these various documents and initiatives should be viewed as another key milestone towards the fulfillment of the vision to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2022. I believe that ending AIDS is only possible when all of us commit ourselves to working diligently and in unity towards achieving this goal.

 

Globally, the rate of new HIV infections is gradually dropping, especially within the SADC region. The Kingdom of Eswatini has recorded a 44% drop in five years (between 2011 and 2017), according to the 2017 Eswatini HIV Incidence Measurement Survey. This is the highest drop in the region. The HIV Estimates and Projections report shows that new infections will further drop to 1.24% by 2024.

While this is a significant and notable achievement, it is also worrying that the HIV incidence remains high among adolescent girls and young women in Eswatini. As a country we have set an ambitious target of reducing the HIV incidence among persons aged 15-49 years by 85%, and among infants aged 0-1 year to less than 0.05%. To achieve these targets, a deliberate and vigorous targeting of this population group with HIV prevention intervention is essential.

When the country introduced ARV’s in 2003, People living with HIV were required to have a CD4 count of 350 or below to qualify for Anti Retrovital Treatment (ART) enrollment.

However, in 2016 the country began to roll out the Test and Treat programme in which lifelong antiretroviral therapy was availed to all persons diagnosed with HIV.

The introduction of People Living with HIV to Anti Retroviral Theraphy (ART) was accelerated to reach 85%, and 92% of those are now virally suppressed. This was the earliest indication that the country was on a trajectory to end AIDs as a public health threat. However, studies have shown that 15% of the population does not use HIV Testing services to know their status and access ART.

Targeting these hard to reach populations which include adolescents and young people, adult men, key populations, mobile populations, prisoners and persons living with disabilities will help strengthen our resolve as a country to end AIDS by 2022. There is need to ensure that all living with HIV know their status, and as part of Government’s leadership function and responsibility, we will continue to support NERCHA and the HIV response to deliver interventions to reach the “left-behind” population in order to achieve epidemic control.

Enrolling people on ART has had the additional benefit of reducing the number of AIDS related deaths. Annual AIDS deaths have steadily declined over the years to 3,500 in 2017, and almost evenly distributed among women and men. Over 70,000 AIDS-related deaths have been averted since the introduction of antiretroviral therapy in 2003.

Life expectancy has also improved from an average of 38.8 years in the 1990’s to an average of 48years in 2018. Government commits to the continued provision of all services, including antiretroviral therapy, to people living with HIV.

While we are proud to acknowledge our achievements, we are aware of the need to focus on strategies to maintain these successes, whilst working towards closing identified gaps and strengthening our actions to achieve the desired target of the HIV response.  It is for this reason that today we will launch documents that will guide and strengthen the delivery of interventions, and also launch new and innovative activities aimed at reinvigorating the response to achieve reduction of new infections.

It is my pleasure to therefore, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, launch the National HIV Prevention Policy 2019 - to guide stakeholders in delivering targeted HIV prevention interventions. I further launch the HIV Stigma Index Report 2019, and call upon all stakeholders to implement this report to create an enabling and happy environment for people living with HIV. 

To make this dream a reality, the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini, through NERCHA, will provide a kick-start programme directed at supporting People Living with HIV at grassroots level with a Regional Small Grants Programme.

The programme will ensure that befitting groups of People Living with HIV access grants of up to E30 000 per group to implement programmes on HIV at community level. This initiative will be monitored closely and, depending on annual performance, decisions will be made on future investments. Government has pledged E800 000 towards this programme.

Programme Director, distinguished guests, may I now turn my attention to the launch of the World AIDS Campaign 2019. You are aware that the Kingdom of Eswatini joins the world annually to commemorate the World AIDS Day, a campaign that seeks to raise awareness and advocacy on issues around the HIV epidemic in different communities around the world.

The Theme for the 2019 World AIDS Day is “communities making a difference”. It recognizes the essential role that communities have played and continue to play in the AIDS response. As the country works towards attaining the goal of Ending AIDS by 2022, the theme in the local context will not only recognize the role that communities have played in the HIV response, but will also mobilize communities to intensify their efforts to achieve this goal. 

Community dialogues and community-based activities will be activated in identified Tinkhundla centres, spanning across all four regions. Everyone is encouraged to participate in at least in one dialogue.

 

As the country has made an ambitious commitment to end AIDS eight years ahead of the Global Target of 2030, may I emphasize commitment from Cabinet and Government that we will support the vision of Ending AIDS!!

It now gives me pleasure, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, to launch the World AIDS Campaign for 2019.

Thank you. May God bless us all.  

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