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Figure1: Prime Minister Dr. Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini, flanked by Minister of Public Works & Transport Ps. Lindiwe Dlamini (R), Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Swaziland Railway Mr. Stephenson Ngubane (L), with stakeholders and participants during the official opening of the conference.

His Excellency The Right Honourable Prime Minister Dr. Sibusiso Dlamini was speaking during the launched the first National Transport Dialogue held at The Royal Swazi Convention Centre, 24th – 25th February 2016. The Prime Minister highlighted that as the country seeks to accelerate economic growth, the transport sector has a critical role to play, and hence it requires sustainable transport systems that match regional standards.

He said for faster economic growth the country needs to produce more goods, and services of value for both domestic and external markets. There’s an increased demand for manufacturing and agri-processing, hence the transport sector have an important role to play in moving those commodities.

Prime Minister Dr.  Sibusiso Dlamini appreciated the presence of key players in the transport industry, both locally and regionally, saying the transport dialogue could be attributed as the regional cross boarder partnership. International and regional participants include; South African Cross Road Transport Agency (C-BRTA), Maputo Corridor Logistics Initiative, Transnet Freight Rail, Swaziland Railway (SR), Swaziland Civil Aviation Authority (SWACAA), Swaziland Bankers Association (SBA), and many more.

There’s an augmented need of making our economy the investment hub that beats all others to stimulate foreign companies to invest in Swaziland. The country needs to improve in global competitive indices, The World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index, whereby the country currently is ranked at 105 / 189 and the country has set a target to be ranked at 60 by 2018.

 

 

 

STATEMENT BY THE RT HON PRIME MINISTER

DR B.SIBUSISO DLAMINI

AT THE NATIONAL TRANSPORT DIALOGUE

AT THE ROYAL SWAZI CONVENTION CENTRE

WEDNESDAY 24 FEBRUARY 2016

Honourable Ministers

Commissioner-General South African Revenue Service

Commissioner-General, Swaziland Revenue Authority

Director-General Swaziland Civil Aviation Authority

Chief Executive of Swaziland Railways

National Director Mozambique Land Transportation

Chief Executive Maputo Corridor Logistics Initiative

Chief Executive Officer, Cross Border Road Transport Agency

Chairperson National Road Transport Council

Director Investor Roadmap

Captains of Industry, especially Transport Operators in the

Swazi Economy

Ladies and Gentlemen

To a large degree, communication by post has been superseded by the rather more rapid means of contact known as email. Whilst that has revolutionized written contact between individuals, companies and institutions, the transport of goods and people remains in its time-honoured forms – by air, by rail and by road.

That will, of course, change in varying degrees over the coming decades. The smartphone and the 3D printer have already taken their place in the continuing process of converting the impossible to the improbable, and then to the entirely possible. In the meantime, we must concentrate, in the case of the transport of goods, on achieving the highest degree of efficiency in the existing methods. That applies equally to the transport of people whether arriving in, or leaving the country, to do business or as tourists. Tourists love to walk – an area of tourism in which we need rapid product development to appeal to the discerning, high-spending tourist - but they expect efficient transport to get them to where they want to start walking!

For faster economic growth we need to be seeing more goods, and services of value produced in our country, for both the domestic and external markets. We look especially to increased downstream manufacturing, in agri-processing and other forms of taking primary products into lower volume, higher value commodities.

Throughout, the transport sector has a crucially important role to play. The quality of our roads is a critical factor. Good roads minimize discomfort and vehicle damage, and reduce risk as well as operating costs – all factors which impact on the ultimate price of commodities, whether imported or exported, and thus the economy itself. The roads that make up the main arteries of the country are good, and we must maintain them to that standard, as well as prioritizing and spending carefully on the expansion of our network.

Rail is, broadly speaking, by far the cheapest form of transport, though lacking a great degree of flexibility. The manner in which our rail network and the current expansion plans dovetail with the roads and air infrastructure will impact significantly on the efficiency of our transport, and the lower will be our costs. We now have a superb King Mswati III International Airport at Sikhuphe. The faster we can make external transport via that airport the link of choice to the global market - the better. We read of the massive cut-flower trade by air between the small scale growers of Kenya and the European market, and the substantial contribution that trade is making to Kenyan economic growth. That has raised the very relevant and compelling question – why can’t we do the same?

Another highly important commercial technique in the utilization of an international airport, with potential links across the globe, is the establishment of a special economic zone around the airport itself. Again we need to understand what progress is being made in this area so that Swaziland can also avail itself of this form of competitive advantage.

Making our economy the investment destination that beats all others means making foreign companies really want to invest here, and domestic companies very keen to expand their operations. One of the most widely consulted of all the global competitiveness indices is the World Bank Ease Doing Business Index. Investors look very closely at that Index. We stand at 105 out of 189 countries and are moving up slowly. We have to accelerate that improvement, which means our Investor Roadmap Unit monitoring and coordinating substantial improvements in each of the areas under review. Our target is position 60 by 2018. We have to achieve that to really stand out as an investment destination.

One of the areas, examined and assessed each year for the World Bank Index, is cross-border trading which, for us in Swaziland, means getting goods in and out of our country with speed, honesty and efficiency. Borders do, by their very existence, present significant challenges to transport speed and efficiency. Our task is to tackle those challenges in a manner that enables us to lose nothing in revenue for Government and competitiveness for the transport industry, in a manner and spirit of cooperation with our fellow member states.

Today, we have an impressive number of key players in what might fairly be described as the regional cross-border partnership. While the World Bank Index has placed Swaziland cross-border trading as top in Africa, challenges clearly remain otherwise we would not be meeting here this week, not only to discuss and resolve our own challenges but also those of our partners on the other side of the common borders. I duly extend a very warm welcome to our visitors and trust that this will be a highly productive two-day programme.

As regulations and procedures are improved they can only take effect if properly implemented. One of the key needs in business generally is a high standard of communication. We want the documentation to be correctly completed, unnecessary duplication eliminated, and taxes and duties correctly assessed and paid. But we want all the necessary details communicated to all stakeholders simultaneously and comprehensively.

In respect of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) there is a Protocol on Transport, Communications and Meteorology that recognizes, inter alia, that transport demands the achievement of high standards for sustained economic growth and improved commercial and social interaction of the people of the region. SADC procedures need to be properly domesticated and this process to be shared with all industry players. National legislation has to comply with regional commitments. Bilateral transport agreements with neighbours are essential. Where there are institutional changes, these need to be expedited properly but also without unnecessary delays that impact negatively on transport operators. Our bureaucracy must work in a manner that is user-friendly, operating to serve and facilitate. A heavy emphasis is needed on collaboration between stakeholders in our transport industry, and between Government and the private sector.

There are clearly bottlenecks and the main objective of this Dialogue is to address those domestically and regionally, and make them disappear without the loss of revenue, integrity and harmony. The Dialogue Programme, together with the status and diversity of the participants, suggest a vigorous, informative and productive two days of deliberations. On behalf of His Majesty’s Government I wish you well.

Thank you.

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