Observer on Saturday - - News - By Alec Lushaba Ed­i­tor

With govern­ment strug­gling to im­prove its rev­enue base and al­ready hav­ing ex­pe­ri­enced two sharp de­clines in the South­ern African Cus­toms Union (SACU) re­ceipts within a space of five years and the re­ces­sion be­ing ex­pe­ri­enced by ma­jor econ­omy, fi­nan­cial ex­perts have ap­proached the Min­istry of Fi­nance and the Cen­tral Bank of Swazi­land with a pro­posal to turn the coun­try into an in­ter­na­tional off­shore fi­nan­cial cen­tre.

In fact, the then min­is­ter of fi­nance and now Gover­nor of the Cen­tral Bank, Ma­jozi Sit­hole is un­der­stood to have com­mis­sioned fi­nan­cial ex­perts be­tween the year 2000 and 2001 to de­velop an in­te­grated cus­tom-made leg­is­la­tion that would have seen the coun­try be­com­ing a global fi­nan­cial cen­tre.

It is said that our fail­ure to make our de­ci­sion on the mat­ter re­sulted in the idea be­ing taken to Mau­ri­tius and has boosted its econ­omy and is one of the rea­sons that make it one of the lead­ing tourists hub in the con­ti­nent.

The idea was again pur­sued in 2011, this time around with a Bill be­ing drafted in Fe­bru­ary 2011, which was to be known as an Act to reg­u­late In­ter­na­tional Busi­ness Ac­tiv­i­ties car­ried on within the King­dom of Swazi­land.

It was en­vis­aged that the draft Act to reg­u­late In­ter­na­tional Busi­ness Ac­tiv­i­ties car­ried on within the King­dom of Swazi­land will func­tion as the main Act, rarely re­quir­ing amend­ments or up­dates.

It fur­ther posits the leg­is­la­tion which will form the ba­sis of the Fi­nan­cial Cen­tre sys­tem that will take the form of reg­u­la­tions, rather than laws, and will be able to be amended and up­dated as and when nec­es­sary.

The idea for the Bill was to make Swazi­land the in­ter­na­tional off­shore head­quar­ters Hub for Sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa.

The ex­perts noted that at the time there was no other valid hub op­er­at­ing in Africa since Mau­ri­tius was strongly disapproved of by se­ri­ous gov­ern­ments.

It fur­ther stated that Botswana and Namibia have not got off the ground. It pre­dicted that an In­ter­na­tional Off­shore Fi­nan­cial Cen­tre will en­hance fi­nan­cial strength and sta­tus of Swazi­land.

It was said that the new leg­isla­tive, reg­u­la­tory and ad­min­is­tra­tive frame­work will give the coun­try a global face as an in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial hub.

In light of un­cer­tain­ties within the re­gion, in par­tic­u­lar the de­vel­op­ments in the Repub­lic of South Africa and other South­ern African coun­tries, it was be­com­ing ur­gent to pro­ceed with this ini­tia­tive by the coun­try’s lead­ers to cre­ate Sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa’s first true IOFC and to gen­er­ate eco­nomic growth, so­cial up-lift­ment and sus­tain­able em­ploy­ment.

“In or­der to make Swazi­land a de­sir­able in­ter­na­tional in­vest­ment des­ti­na­tion and to achieve per­ma­nent so­cial, eco­nomic and in­dus­trial em­pow­er­ment for all in­come groups, it is es­sen­tial to of­fer to a very dis­cern­ing sec­tor of the world’s in­vest­ment com­mu­nity, all the best fea­tures to be found in any other ju­ris­dic­tion, sub-

AWARE: Gover­nor of the Cen­tral Bank, Ma­jozi Sit­hole .

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