Questions are being asked about Swaziland's spending priorities following the publication of the national budget, which sees increased allocations for the royal family and the military instead of focusing on the health and social sectors, according to the South African Mail and Guardian newspaper.
Swaziland has the highest HIV rate in the world and two-thirds of its people live in poverty, many as subsistence farmers in rural areas without water or electricity. Critics say more should be spent on improving basic living conditions instead of funding large-scale infrastructure and subsidising the royal family, the paper reports.
On top of the R210-million allocated to King Mswati III and his family (the same as last year, but up from R154-million in 2010), a further R250-million is being provided for various royal projects, including the refurbishment of state houses, the maintenance of roads to palaces and royal security training.
The king's office, which manages the royal trust fund and business arm Tibiyo -- which is not taxed and does not use its profits for ordinary Swazis -- will receive R5-million, up from the R70 000 it was given last year.
Money for the defence ministry, meanwhile, has been increased by nearly 15% to R713-million and more than R310-million has been set aside for the building of Swaziland's new airport and link roads -- a project labelled by many as a white elephant in the making, seeing as Swaziland has no airline of its own.
To read the full report from the Mail and Guardian, click here.
SWAZILAND BUDGET FULL DETAILS
STILL NO SACRIFICE FROM SWAZI KING