Swaziland tops up king's personal budget
May 16, 2014, 12:05 am TWN
MBABANE, Swaziland--Swaziland's King Mswati III has increased his annual household budget for 2014 by more than 10 percent to US$61 million, as a large public wage bill continues to put pressure on the impoverished country.
The budget of the king, whose personal fortune is estimated around US$200 million, makes provisions for his salary, his mother's upkeep and royal aides.
It also includes provisions for construction work on palaces that will cost the tax payer about US$12.6 million.
The royal budget is not debated in parliament, as discussions would be seen as challenging Africa's last absolute monarch.
Adding to the lack of transparency, audits of the budget are only presented to the king himself and the Royal Board of Trustees chaired by the minister of finance.
Mswati, who rules Swaziland with an iron fist has resisted democratic reforms, his extravagant lifestyle amid vast poverty has been criticized by pro-democracy activists.
The small kingdom is one of the poorest nations in southern Africa, where over 60 percent of the 1.2 million population live on less than US$1 a day.
In the budget the social grant for the elderly remained unchanged at around US$19 a month.