THE Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) is establishing the country’s maiden special economic zone (SEZ) in Mafeteng.
A special economic zone is a business area with different business and trade laws from the rest of the country. SEZs help countries to fast track investment flows, job creation and effective administration.
SEZs are characterised by unique financial policies in terms of taxation, quotas, customs duties and labour regulations.
LNDC’s domestic investment and development finance manager, Semethe Raleche said the organisation has completed a feasibility study to establish the kind of legal framework it would need to support the project.
Mr Raleche revealed this during the LNDC’s on-going national roadshow in Mokhotlong last Friday. The LNDC is using the roadshows to showcase its financing products and investment opportunities to the business community.
The roadshow was attended by Minister of Trade and Industry, Thabiso Molapo, LNDC chief executive officer Mohato Seleke and banks’ representatives.
Mr Raleche said the government must enact laws that will support the project. He said the planned SEZ would consist of four hubs namely pharmaceuticals, medical cannabis, agriculture and manufacturing.
Possible industries within the zone may include electronic components manufacturing; knit fabric mill; wool and mohair scouring plant; mining supplier park; vehicle component manufacturing and renewable energies manufacturing.
He said investors in agri-value chain and manufacturing would also be invited.
“The LNDC is working on establishing the first ever special economic zone in Mafeteng,” Mr Raleche said.
“This is where companies that will produce drugs from medical cannabis… There is already one company that has set up there in a 12 000 square metre factory for production of pharmaceuticals.”
He said the project must therefore be backed up by establishing relevant laws for SEZs.
“We currently do not have such laws and the LNDC has financed a feasibility study in which we wanted to establish what kind of a legal framework will be needed for the SEZ. What is left now is to develop the laws that will regulate special economic zones.”
“There are huge opportunities in SEZ because there is a special tax dispensation given to companies in the zone to attract invest. There will also be a one stop business facilitation services centre to make it easy for investors to access services,” Mr Raleche said.