CERTAIN laws governing businesses must be revised if the economic reforms process which is being spearheaded by the Private Competitiveness and Economic Diversification Project (PSCEDP).
This was highlighted by PSCEDP project manager Chaba Mokuku last week during the launch of the indexing of Lesotho laws in Maseru.
An index of laws refers to a list of laws compiled in their order of years or subject to reflect their status. It helps to identify which laws are outdated and need to be revised and which are no longer in force.
The project of indexing Lesotho laws ran from December 2018 to August 2019 and was funded by the PSCEDP to the tune of M1 896 000. It culminated in the production of 100 hard bound and 100 soft copies of the index dating back from the year 1800 to 2018.
The project was carried out by the Lesotho Law Reform Commission, whose functions include modernisation of the law by matching it with current conditions.
Speaking at the handover of the indexes to the Ministry of Law and Justice, Mr Mokuku said the indexing process was necessary for reviewing laws which aids the PSCEDP’s economic reform agenda.
PSCEDP is a government project under the Ministry of Trade and Industry funded by World Bank. The project’s mandate is to facilitate private sector investment by improving the business environment and diversifying sources of growth for Lesotho’s economy.
“Most of the interventions that the PSCEDP is facilitating require legal reforms, as we need a strong legal basis to implement most of the economic reforms,” Mr Mokuku said.
“For instance, for company registry reforms to reduce the time it takes to start a business, it required the repealing of the old Companies Act and now there is a new Companies Act,” he added.
He said more economic-related laws must be reviewed to improve the business climate for job creation and economic development.
“There are many other priority laws that must be passed to improve our business environment. We must urgently finalise the insolvency law to improve our business environment.
“We are working with the ministries of Trade and Industry and that of Law and Justice to improve our insolvency regime. Currently, we have an insolvency bill that is being finalised and the intention is to ensure that we repeal the current insolvency proclamation of 1957.
“This is a critical piece of legislation that will improve the business environment significantly if enacted.
“We must also finalise the e-commerce law to facilitate commercial transactions. We need to develop the sectional title law to improve investment in real estate and the investment laws to attract foreign investment and promote domestic investment.”
Trade and Industry minister Thabiso Molapo said indexing Lesotho laws will make it easy for the business sector to access the relevant laws.
“The index makes tracing of laws easy, thereby enhancing accessibility to laws. In particular, the business sector stands to profit in a much larger scale through the index because local business and global investors will be in a position to find information regarding business law in Lesotho easily,” Dr Molapo said.
For his part, Law and Justice minister Professor Nqosa Mahao said the project would benefit several stakeholders including the legal fraternity, the commercial sector, academia and the general public.
“Access to the laws by relevant stakeholders and the general public is important and portrays the way in which the legal system operates, which is an offshoot to the rule of law itself and constitutionalism.
“The efficacy of the legal system will in part be determined by the ease of access whereby those who participate in the system have the relevant applicable laws whether through court decisions or statutes.”
Chairperson of the Lesotho Law Reform Commission, Motlamelle Kapa said the last indexing of Lesotho laws was done in 1960 and this has caused problems.
He said the legal research and practice of law is being challenged by the unavailability of statutes as a result of lack of it.
“Failure to organise statutes in the form of index leads to lagging research on current laws. Secondly, the fact that amendments of laws are not incorporated into the original enactments is challenging as it is time consuming and inconvenient for law users to collect all amendments to pieces of legislation and then move from the original legislation to amendments. This leads to unnecessary delays,” Dr Kapa said.