Coronavirus: Eswatini to reduce fuel price, cut interest rates after declaring national emergency
Cape Town - Eswatini is set to put a host of measures in place to safeguard the economy after a national emergency was declared in the kingdom on March 17.
The state of national emergency was put in place due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) across the globe.
"The primary crisis is one of Health due to the infection rate of this deadly virus and measures have been declared to try to curb the spread of the virus. The secondary crisis that Eswatini is facing, is an economical one.
"As the world economy slows down, stock exchanges crash, trade flows are curtailed and movement in countries is stopped, there is a need for Eswatini to put some measures in place to try and assist individuals and businesses that will be suffering the consequences of the economic crisis," the government of the Kingdom of Eswatini said on Tuesday.
The following measures will be put in place:
- Fuel prices will come down during the first week of April.
- The Central Bank has reduced the discount rate with 100 basis points that will reduce the cost of debt with 1%.
- The Central Bank has reduced the liquidity requirement for the banks from 25% to 20% giving the banks more liquidity.
- The Banks have announced that those individuals and companies that need short term financial support or relief can approach them and each application will be assessed on a risk based approach.
- Provisional tax payments: Taxpayers projecting losses will file loss provisional returns, hence no payment will be required. The due date has been postponed by 3 months, which means June declarations and payments are due in September and December declarations due in March 2021.
- Payment arrangements: Taxpayers facing cash flow problems should provide evidence to be considered for payment arrangements. This only applies to current dues for Income Tax.
- For old debts, SRA will waive of penalties and interest if principal is cleared by the end of September 2020. This applies to all debts (excluding Customs debt). This will assist taxpayers clear their old debts and accumulated interest and penalties and start on a clean slate for their businesses to enhance recovery.
- A portion of the Capital budget this year will be redirected towards urgently refurbishing hospitals and completing wings of new hospitals
The Eswatini government advised the public to reduce the use of cash and to move to electronic means of payment. It has also urged citizens to not fear a “shortage of cash” as the banking sector has enough liquidity.
It said that more measures might be added, depending on the level of the crisis.
"We plead with all Emaswati to unify against this virus and we encourage communities and households to support each other during this dark hour. This is not a time for political agendas, vendettas, propaganda or selfish ambitions but a time that our country can demonstrate Eswatini’s true strength of unity, peace and stability.IOL