Monday, 1 August 2011

Secret fund to save Swaziland

A story in Friday's M&G suggests that Swaziland, while facing dire financial straights and seeking bail-outs from the IMF, AfDB and South Africa, may have a trust fund that is could be contributing quite a lot to government coffers but is currently hidden, inaccessible to government and tax exempt. The fund was set up in the 1960s by the previous king. Initial capital was gathered through each family kraal donating a cow. The fund now has interests in banking, Illovo Sugar, hotels/resorts and financial institutions. A second, smaller fund apparently also has investments in property, including shopping malls, and agriculture. The funds are not taxable and are entirely separate from government control. Now activists are calling for these entities to be brought under the control of government and taxed, so that the money held "in trust" for the Swazi people might help to alleviate some of their economic woes. The IMF agrees.

Meanwhile HIV positive people took to the streets last week to protest against poor health service delivery and the fact that the country is running out of the ARV medication on which they are dependent.

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