Mbabane: European Union (EU) Delegation in Swaziland Head of Operations Raniero Leto says it is difficult to have a clear answer as to how Swaziland slipped behind so quickly in the World Bank's 'Ease of Doing Business' index. He said this situation was probably the result of the combination of a series of unfavourable factors and conditions. Leto said he was genuinely surprised to find out that between 2005 and 2010, Swaziland fell from the 68th place to 115th place in the World Bank's 'Ease of Doing Business' index.
He said that trend continued and Swaziland now rests in 124th place out of 183 countries in 2012.
"What happened? Of course, the 'Ease of Doing Business' index is a relative indicator; it shows Swaziland's position compared to other countries. Is the indicator suggesting that Swaziland has just been pottering along in the slow lane of the motorway while many other countries whizzed past it in faster vehicles? Or worse, was it suggesting that Swaziland has actually been driving the wrong way down the motorway against the oncoming traffic? " he said.
Leto said to improve the business climate in Swaziland, it would be important to consider and study other countries' policy vehicles and understand why and how they were being driven much faster. He said Swaziland could learn from the other successful countries such as Mauritius, Rwanda, South Africa, Botswana and so many others in the world.
Leto was speaking during a national workshop on improving the business climate in Swaziland. It was organised by the Swaziland Investment Promotion Authority (SIPA) in cooperation with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Investment Agency (COMESA RIA) with the support of the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Business Climate Facility (BizClim).
Adding, Leto said the EU delegation in Swaziland was a small one with only five operational staff. However, he said the EU bilateral support for Swaziland was very significant and covered various areas such as health, education, agriculture, water and sanitation, infrastructure, governance and capacity building and amounts to approximately E2.2 billion (220 million Euros) for the period 2008-2013.
He noted that the EU last trade related project, which sought to increase the competitiveness of Swaziland, ended last year. Leto said creating an enabling environment and increasing Swaziland competitiveness would be crucial for the country, even more important at a time of global economic turmoil, especially in Europe.