‘Budget should target investment’

By Letuka Chafotsa

MASERU — The Finance Minister, Dr Leketekete Ketso, will today deliver his second annual national budget presentation for the year 2014/15 amidst great expectations, particularly in the area of investment and job creation.

The national budget outlines the government’s economic planning and provides an estimate of expenditure and revenues.

Dr Maluke Letete, an Economics lecturer at the National University of Lesotho, on Tuesday told the Lesotho Times the government’s focus should be more on projects that would help in achieving the goals of the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP).

NSDP is the country’s national strategic development plan for 2012-2017 which provides an opportunity to identify key levers for getting the country on a sustainable development path towards the achievement of the National Vision 2020 goals.
“The strategic plans of government and the medium-term expenditure plans should be aligned to realise the country’s objectives,” Letete said.

Letete further said the budget should also stipulate clearly key projects thought to facilitate the realisation of primary NSDP goals.

The NSDP advocates a development environment through political stability, effective development manage ment that permits the attainment of social, economic and
environmental goals and a competitive investment climate that facilitates high employment creation and prosperity for all citizens. It also hinges on the need to invest in infrastructure, raise productivity and diversify the economy to create jobs and raise living standards.

Improving the quality of education and training is an essential foundation of a more productive and inclusive growth path. It is towards these projects that Dr Letete said today’s budget should be directed.

On the issue of high expectations for salary increases for civil servants, Dr Letete said that he was not expecting a huge increase in public servants’ salaries.

Speaking at the national dialogue for economic transformation in January this year, Ketso said that the civil servants wage bill was too high.

It is in light of this that Letete said he was not expecting significant increases in salaries and wages for civil servants.

“There are competing crucial needs to be addressed to help our economy to bolster,” Letete said.

Letete further said reducing corporate taxes was one way of encouraging private sector investment which, in the long run, would reduce the bloated public service.

Letete added that: “Lowering corporate tax rates can increase investment, reduce tax evasion by formal firms, promote the creation of formal firms, and ultimately raise sales and the Gross Domestic Product.”

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