THE government has introduced several measures, among them the launch of a standards institution to certify local products for the domestic and international market as well as the purchase of goods and services from local suppliers, as part of efforts to bring more Basotho into the mainstream economy.
The measures were announced yesterday in parliament by Finance Minister, Moeketsi Majoro, in his budget speech for the 2018/2019 financial year.
Dr Majoro said among other things, the government would focus on promoting local businesses by purchasing goods from them.
“The Minister of Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing has vigorously promoted local purchase of products produced by Basotho and the government fully embraces this policy,” Dr Majoro said.
He said the government would also procure 2500 metric tons of maize and 500 metric tonnes of beans from local producers for its schools feeding programme.
He further said the cabinet had instructed the ministries of Defence and National Security and of Police and Public Safety to buy their uniforms from local companies.
“Government departments should procure uniforms produced in Lesotho and ministries with large catering needs should also buy their food requirements from Basotho farmers,” Dr Majoro said.
He said the establishment of the standards institution would help local companies by certifying their goods to enable them to be sold on the domestic and international markets.
Dr Majoro also revealed that the government was currently finalising a new programme to procure vehicles on lease from Basotho.
“Various groups of Basotho including fleet operators, youth groups, disabled groups and others will be able to own and lease vehicles to the government,” he said, adding this will also provide opportunities for dealers and equipment manufacturers to set up businesses in Lesotho as government will deal only with providers incorporated in the country.
The supply of the government fleet has previously been shrouded in controversy with reports that government was paying hugely inflated prices to hire vehicles from South Africa. The Pakalitha Mosisili-headed former seven parties’ government engaged Bidvest Bank Limited of South Africa in a vehicle fleet service contract from October 2015 to March 2016.
Former Police Minister in the previous government and current Deputy Prime Minister, Monyane Moleleki, dropped a bombshell when he announced that the former government paid M600 million in the 2016/17 financial year to Bidvest Bank Limited.
Speaking at the rally in Butha-Buthe in April 2017 ahead of the June 2017 elections, Mr Moleleki said the government followed this up with another M73 million payment in penalties after prematurely terminating the vehicle fleet service contract it signed with the South African company.
Dr Majoro further noted that Lesotho’s rangeland supports the production of red meat, hides, wool and mohair adding that if properly managed, it also helps the protection of wetlands and the recharge of water sources.
“The ministries of Forestry and Land Reclamation; Agriculture and Food Security; Trade and Industry; Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing; and Water Affairs have been instructed to work collectively with private investors to rehabilitate rangelands and wetlands with the objective of stimulating investments in these two value chains.”
Dr Majoro also revealed that the recently launched Ha Belo Industrial Hub will provide employment to about 14 000 people and the government will also invite private property investors to build factory shells.