FINANCE minister Moeketsi Majoro has expressed worry that the current political situation could scupper the government’s massive attempt at attracting investment to create jobs through the economic laboratories initiative.
Dr Majoro said this at a recent dinner hosted by the Nedbank’s Group Chief Executive, Mark Brown, during his visit to the country. The minister said Lesotho cannot afford to have its job creation plans derailed by the current political situation.
A motion of no confidence against the Prime Minister Thomas Thabane led government was filed in parliament last week in a move that could yet end the current government’s reign throwing all its plans into disarray.
The straight-talking Dr Majoro said Lesotho has never showed a better intention of creating jobs for its people over the past 50 years than the economic labs.
The economic labs are an investment dialogue platform between government and the private sector to discuss how specific investment projects can be implemented through directly addressing prohibiting obstacles.
The initiative, which is being spearheaded by the Ministry of Development Planning, is anchored on the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP II) 2018/19 to 2022/23, where four productive sectors namely agriculture, tourism and creative industry, manufacturing, and technology and innovation were prioritised for job creation and inclusive economic growth led by the private sector.
The government adopted the methodology after attending a Performance Management and Delivery Unit (PEMANDU) workshop in Malaysia where the country’s experiences and those of other African countries were shared.
The initiative was officially launched in March this year by Dr Thabane at the ‘Manthabiseng Convention Centre.
According to the Bureau of Statistics, Lesotho’s official unemployment rate was 32, 8 percent in 2016, although the figure has likely risen since then.
Dr Majoro said that the project is scheduled for further development when the Malaysian experts will be return to Lesotho next month.
He said out of the 400 proposals generated from the lab, 77 of them have been identified as ready for investment as having high impact of creating jobs. These 77 projects came with M20 billion investment and creating 30 000 for the next five years.
He said there were 143 other “good proposals” which did not have funding, which he said that Nedbank Lesotho and other interested entities could invest in.
However, Dr Majoro said with Lesotho desperately needing to attract investment, the political situation does not augur well for attracting investment which it needs to create jobs for its jobs citizens.
He said the Malaysian consultants are scheduled to come back to Lesotho next to take the economic labs initiative forward towards implementation.
“This is the first time in 50 years that Lesotho has ever come this far in organising investment, so this is not the time to have this political mess that we have,” Dr Majoro said.
“It is absolutely not the time to have this. We have had this nonsense for the last 50 years,” Dr Majoro added.
He however expressed hope that when the political ‘transformation’ which the country is currently going through has been completed, Lesotho will be open for investment.
“We need to endure what is happening as it will end soon and the space is going to open for investment; Lesotho must be a country that must attract investment,” Dr Majoro said.