By Letuka Chafotsa
MASERU—The Private sector applaud the last week presented budget for its philosophical approach that is geared towards improving livelihoods.
The Lesotho Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) economist, Majakathata Mokoena on Monday said that the budget’s spirit is in the right place as it addresses the people’s needs.
“We are optimistic with the budget as it is built on what the people need and our programs will fit in smoothly,” Mokoena said.
The budget proposals of the fiscal year 2014/2015 were presented before the parliament last week Thursday.
Mokoena said that the budget is also addressing the fiscal stability.
The macroeconomic stability is fundamental to support the efficient allocation of resources and distribution of risks across the economy.
The Minister of Finance Dr. Leketekete Ketso in his budget speech said Lesotho has succeeded in “preserving stability, following the 2008 global financial and economic crisis.”
The buoyancy in fiscal stability was brought by the implementation of the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) program with the assistance of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Ketso had once said that ECF hailed the national economic transformation dialogue in January saying that it had helped in stabilising the macro-fiscal environment providing the renewed opportunity for an enabling investment climate.
Ketso said that it was that national dialogue which provided the instructive precursor for the 2014/2015 economic year budget.
Majakathata also hailed the agricultural development that the Finance minister said had improved robustly in the sector’s production in the fiscal year 2012/2013 as compared to previous year.
In the budget Ketso indicated that: “The 2012/13 was a near turnaround for the Government’s subsidy for summer cropping that started in 2012/13 resulted in total grain production of 154,000 metric tonnes compared to an average of 42,000 metric tonnes in previous years.”
Mokoena said that even this fiscal year the government had also showed the political will to sustain that positive development in agriculture.
“The budget is seemingly gearing towards development in agriculture as on top of the acquired production which was more the half of the previous productions.
“It shows that now the agriculture subsidies should focus on diversification of value chains,” Mokoena said.
In the budget Ketso noted: “The additional M11 million on agricultural sectors was proposed to support irrigated agriculture and procurement of agricultural machinery.
“Livestock production will be supported through the construction of wool and mohair shearing sheds and support for smallholder agriculture development.”
The government had set aside M166.0 milion to subsidies to farmers which together with the additional M11.0 total to M 177.0 million.
Mokoena further said it is thrilling to see that the government was ready to support the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP).
He said that the policy priorities of the government outlined in the budget as they are aligned with the NSDP primary goals.
The budget stipulates that the fiscal year 2014/2015 policy priorities are: to facilitate job creation, inclusive growth and economic diversification; enabling investment climate and regulatory framework; development of minimum infrastructure platform; and also improving public sector efficiency and effectiveness.
Meanwhile, independent economist Arthur Majara said much as the budget is promising to the private sector, it does not crystally stipulate on how the development of the private sector would be achieved.
“The budget is not concrete on how to achieve the private sector led growth which can be the good economic principle to save the nation from the scorch of poverty,” Majara said.