Swaziland

Country Summary

Economic performance and outlook: Real GDP growth declined to an estimated 1% in 2017, down from 1.3% in 2016. Sluggish growth was observed mainly in wholesale and retail trade, as well as financial services, where output was hindered by reduced government spending due to ongoing fiscal challenges. Although agricultural output buoyed by good weather conditions following the El Niño–induced drought of 2015, as was agro-processing, the sector contracted, dragged down by livestock production, which suffered heavy stock depletion following the drought. Manufacturing bounced back in 2017, driven mainly by investment in textiles. Construction activity contracted due to limited fiscal space, which hindered implementation of public projects in 2017. 

Macroeconomic evolution: Inflation was estimated at 7% in 2017 after peaking at 8% in 2016, largely reflecting the decline in food prices following adequate precipitation. To protect the currency peg to the South African rand, the Central Bank raised the discount rate by 25 basis points to 7.25% in January 2017. While the monetary stance has tightened, fiscal policy remains expansionary to boost economic activity. The budget balance swung into a deficit in 2014–15, which widened sharply to double digits in 2016 following a sharp decline in Southern African Customs Union (SACU) revenues and an upward adjustment of public-sector wages. The 2017 budget showed a slightly lower fiscal deficit, due mainly to a surge in SACU revenues. The deficit is financed through domestic borrowing, including Central Bank financing, and accumulation of domestic arrears, which threatens banking sector stability and potentially crowds out the private sector. Public debt, which rose rapidly in recent years to 19.3% of GDP in 2016, remains sustainable. Impacted by the prolonged expansionary fiscal stance, the current account deteriorated, and international reserve coverage declined to 3.4 months of imports at the end of 2016. 

Tailwinds: Medium-term growth is projected to improve to about 2.5% in 2018. The recovery depends on a continued rebound in agricultural output and higher construction activity. Agricultural activity will be facilitated by completion of the Lower Usuthu Smallholder Irrigation Project and by an uptick in livestock production as farmers restock. The outlook for mining is positive, due to the rebound in international commodity prices and increased coal production following the renewal of a mining license. Manufacturing growth is expected to be boosted by increased food processing, reflecting higher sugar cane production and sustained expansion of the textile industry, which has successfully diversified to new markets, particularly South Africa, despite the loss of access to the U.S. market. Domestic growth is also likely to be driven by the sustained expansion of construction activity associated with the planned construction of infrastructure projects, such as the Lothair railway link. 

Headwinds: Downside risks to the medium-term outlook remain elevated. The main risk stems from further tightening of budget financing due to the accumulation of domestic arrears, which could delay project implementation. Arrears could also lead to additional risks emanating from deteriorating banks’ asset quality. Lower export earnings on account of subdued demand for mineral exports, adverse weather conditions, and lower SACU revenues are other risks that need careful monitoring. These risks underline the importance of accelerating growth-enhancing reforms to boost private investment and put the country on a sustained growth path. The deteriorating fiscal position threatens macroeconomic and financial stability; the government needs to undertake durable fiscal adjustment efforts focusing on containing the public wage bill, prioritizing capital outlays, and boosting tax revenues.

Source: African Economic Outlook 2018

Fixed Income

Summary

  • The government securities yield curve extended to 10 years with four benchmark points along the curve (3-5-7 and 10 years). 
  • It has a Medium-Term Debt Strategy which is published after the budget speech. 

Issuance strategy 

Swaziland has a Medium-Term Debt Strategy which is published after the budget speech. Strategy: enhance availability of financing, by (i) reaching out to potential investors for auctions of government securities, (ii) issuing long-term bonds at floating interest rates, and (iii) bonds linked to specific projects. 

Benchmark issues 

Benchmarks issues (3-5-7 and 10 years) are sold in the market using the auction and Swaziland’s website reopening methods. The yield curve is indicative only. The yield curve is available on the Central Bank of Swaziland 

Yield curve 

Yield curve calculation models 

Swaziland uses the Republic of South Africa’s yield curve plus spread. 

Interpolation methods 

There are no interpolation methods

Yield curve managed by 

The Central Bank of Swaziland is in charge of calculating the yield curve on a daily basis. 

Display platform 

The yield curve is available on the Central Bank of Swaziland’s website.

Challenges in building an efficient yield curve 

The government faces the following challenges in building an efficient yield curve: 

  • Illiquid and limited secondary market 
  • Narrow investor base: Swaziland does not have foreign participation 
  • Lack of transparency in pricing, especially the primary dealers 

Guide to Buying Bonds

Procedures for market participation

The primary market is open to institutional investors and individuals alike. Banks, non-bank financial institutions, stockbrokers, corporate, individuals and non-residents can all participate in the auctions. Investors must contact one of the Primary Dealers or go directly to the Central Bank to purchase Treasury bills (the process to purchase the securities at the Central Bank is more administratively cumbersome).

Foreign participation is limited, hence there were few funds repatriation after the global financial crisis.

Taxation

There is no capital gains tax. Interest income is subject to a withholding tax of 10% for residents but the tax rate is 0% for non-residents.

Swaziland has double taxation agreements with the following countries: the UK, the US, Germany, Mauritius and Kuwait.

Settlement cycle

The settlement cycle for treasury bills is T+2.

Market restrictions

Openness to international investors

The Swaziland Investment Promotions Authority (SIPA) guarantees the equal treatment between domestic and foreign investors. There are no discriminatory practices between domestic and foreign investors.

The SIPA was established in 1998 through the Swaziland Investment Promotion Act. The objective of the SIPA is to foster a job creation environment by encouraging domestic and foreign investments.

International investors may participate in the purchase of Treasury securities through Primary Dealers

Capital controls

There are no restrictions placed on the transfer of interest, profits, dividends and or other accrued income.

Restrictions on foreign exchange and profit repatriation

The Central Bank of Swaziland (CBS) is charged with monitoring the flow of foreign investment in and out of the country. It may screen and regulate foreign exchange and investments in the country.

The process of obtaining foreign exchange in Swaziland is fairly simple and straightforward. To obtain hard currency, one must apply through an authorized dealer. Rules also state that a resident holding foreign currency must sell it to an authorized agent or dealer for local currency within 3 months (90 days).

List of Primary Dealers

The primary dealers in the system are:

Nedbank Swaziland Ltd

Standard Bank Swaziland Ltd

First National Bank of Swaziland

o  Swaziland Development and Savings Bank

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