Business ‘concerned’ over failed policies



Thabo Qhesi
Thabo Qhesi

…says Private Sector Development Programme could be the antidote  

Rethabile Pitso

The Private Sector Foundation of Lesotho (PSFL) has urged government to approve its Private Sector Development Programme (PSDP) aimed at “consolidating” initiatives outlined in the National Development Strategic Plan (NSDP).

According to PSFL Chief Executive Officer Thabo Qhesi, one of the reasons for the slow implementation of government to develop initiatives was lack of coordination between line ministries and key role-players.

Mr Qhesi, who was addressing journalists in Maseru on Monday, said despite launching several initiatives for economic growth, “there is little impact on the ground”, hence the Foundation’s formulation of the PSDP. The PSDP would consolidate all development initiatives with clear targets and implementation-frameworks, he added.

However, Mr Qhesi noted the PSDP’s success would depend on support from all stakeholders such as government departments, the business community, civil society organisations and international development partners.

He further said the PSDP would enable a proper review of any progress initiated towards the fulfillment of the projects in the NSDP.

“We have realised that one of the contributing factors for the slow implementation of the NSDP is lack of cohesiveness between line-ministries and relevant stakeholders in the business community.

“This has made it difficult for government to monitor the progress of on-going programmes hence our suggestion to adopt the PSDP. The PSDP would solely concentrate on key programmes which would further allow us to establish targets within a specified period.

“The programme has worked in countries such as Botswana, Kenya and Zambia because it has a specific focus. It would assist the country to move forward in its economic empowerment endeavours and lead to the creation of real jobs as studies have revealed in Botswana, for instance,” he said.

Mr Qhesi further emphasized the need for government to consider new approaches when implementing projects, such as giving priority to local consultations for the sake of continuity.

“We wish to commend government in its efforts to level the playing field for private sector development. The Foundation has noted some draft policies and has engaged in their facilitation such as the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Policy for Lesotho (June 2011), Investor Roadmap Lesotho (Feb 2012), Diagnostic Trade Integration Study (Dec 2012), Lesotho CAADP Compact (Sept 2013), National Investment Policy of Lesotho of 2013, Public Private Partnership Policy (January 2014), SADC Trade Relate Facility (March 2015), AGOA Response Strategy for Lesotho (April 2015), and SADC Industrial Strategy and Roadmap (August 2015) among others.

“These policies were established in good faith but up to now, there has not been much progress towards executing them. With the implementation of the NSDP which should be spearheaded by local consultants, it would offer continuity of projects that have been introduced in line with the demands enshrined within the NSDP.

“As a country, we need to move away from the behaviour of showing commitment at the introduction of a project and when foreign consultants are around but later fail to fully execute it. Some of these draft policies were introduced a long time ago but due to lack of proper coordination, they have failed to see the light of day,” he said.

Mr Qhesi further said the PSFL was concerned with Lesotho’s stagnated statistics revealed in the World Bank Doing Business 2015 report.

“The report has shown that out of 128 Southern African Customs Union (SACU) countries, Lesotho has remained at number 128 since 2014 whilst Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland, Mozambique and South Africa have shown notable progress.

“The report shows  recession in areas such as ‘getting electricity’, ‘enforcing contracts’, ‘dealing with construction payments’ and ‘registering property’, which deal with assessing potential for investors to get those services.

“It is the perspective of PSFL that those low numbers may have been affected by factors such as lack of proper town-planning, high costs of installing electricity for business purposes and high consumption rates.

“We also believe that ambitious programmes such as the One Stop Business Facilitation Centre, which sought to enable easy access to platforms for starting businesses, have failed to decentralise programmes throughout the country resulting in lack of access for the youth,” Mr Qhesi added.

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