Africa Briefs

12 August 2019 | Economics

eSwatini ministers must tighten belts

The Kingdom of eSwatini is looking at cutting cabinet ministers' housing, travel and entertainment allowances as part of attempts to revive the economy of the country formerly known as Swaziland.

A Royal Commission tasked with investigating how politicians are remunerated in the landlocked country submitted recommendations on Friday, including ending first-class travel for ministers except for prime minister Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini and his deputy.

The recommendations, tabled before cabinet and awaiting royal approval, also call for housing allowances to be cut to 12.5% of annual salaries from 25%, so cabinet ministers would get 7 719 emalangeni per month for this purpose instead of 15 349 emalangeni.

Entertainment allowances would be cut 7% to 1 852 emalangeni, and in addition the prime minister and his deputy would contribute 33% towards their medical cover.

eSwatini finance minister Neal Rijkenberg said in February the kingdom was facing an "unprecedented economic crisis" and was set to continue faltering as it faces slowing rates of foreign investment and a fast-growing wage bill. – Nampa/Reuters

Egypt's headline inflation slows to four-year low

Egypt's headline inflation rate fell to its lowest in nearly four years, dropping to 8.7% in July from 9.4% in June, official figures from the CAPMAS statistics agency showed on Thursday.

Egypt is nearing the end of a three-year International Monetary Fund economic reform programme that saw inflation rise to a high of 33% in 2017.

July's rate defied analysts' expectations. It followed a fresh round of fuel subsidy cuts that pushed domestic fuel prices up by 16% to 30%.

Scaling back fuel subsidies that strained Egyptian budgets for decades was a key plank of the US$12 billion IMF reform package signed in 2016, when Egypt's economy was struggling to recover from the turmoil that followed its 2011 uprising.

Recent CAPMAS data showed that the number of Egyptians living below the poverty line rose to 32.5% in the 2017/18 financial year from 27.8% in 2015/16. The statistics agency set the poverty line at an annual income of 8 827 Egyptian pounds (US$535) per person. – Nampa/Reuters