THE Covid-19 pandemic is dampening economic growth in Southern Africa with negative impact on job creation and the ability of member States to raise revenue.
Sadc has said this, noting that the pandemic has resulted in deteriorating fiscal positions and rising public debt.
This emerged during a recent virtual Peer Review Panel of Sadc Ministers of Finance and Investment who convened to assess progress on implementation of financial mechanisms, harmonising and strengthening of the financial sector in the Region
Dr Adriano Afonso Maleiane, who is Minister of Economy and Finance in Mozambique as well as chairperson of the Sadc Committee of Ministers of Finance and Investment, chaired the proceedings.
“Economic sectors continue to face serious challenges like constrained growth in the real sector, widening fiscal deficits and constrained revenue raising capacities,” said Sadc in a post-meeting statement.
Although economic performance for some member States has improved marginally in the last few years, Dr Maleiane was quoted as saying the Sadc region was forging ahead with its development trajectory, notwithstanding the difficulties faced by most of the economies.
He commended regional governments for measures and resources committed to containing the Covid-19 pandemic and mitigating its socio-economic impacts.
In her remarks, Sadc executive secretary, Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax underscored the challenges facing the region, including those posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
She called for effective national and regional policy measures to keep regional supply chains safe and stable, maintain regional financial stability, spur quick recovery of the regional economy and minimising the economic and social damage.
Dr Tax said the challenges facing the region call for speedy implementation of the Sadc Industrialisation Agenda, which, among others, seeks to scale up utilisation of comparative advantages, national and regional potentials, and natural resources to the fullest.
During the meeting the ministers also approved the constitution of a Working Group of Senior Treasury Officials supported by specialists from member States on the operationalisation of the Sadc Regional Development Fund.
This will, among others, provide leadership and policy guidance in the course of conducting consultancies on the operationalisation of the fund and the development of financial instruments to support implementation of Sadc regional integration projects.
The ministers further directed the Exchange Control Committee to fast-track development of a framework for detecting, monitoring and addressing the threats of Illicit Trade and Financial Flows in the region.
They noted the progress on the modalities for the establishment and operationalisation of the Sadc Regional Transmission Infrastructure Financing Facility, a key component under regional integration goals.
The ministers also encouraged member States that have not signed or ratified the Agreement on Assistance in Tax Matters to do so, and to leverage on the Support to Improving the Business Environment Programme (SIBE) to negotiate or re-negotiate their double taxation avoidance agreements.