GOVERNMENT will re-launch dialogue with the private sector as part of collaborative efforts to accelerate investment, economic growth and job creation during the 2017/18 financial year.
This was said by Finance Minister, Moeketsi Majoro, during his recent presentation of the proposed 2017/18 budget to parliament.
The budget speech was delivered under the theme ‘Pursuing fiscal sustainability within the context of political instability and insecurity’.
Dr Majoro said the dialogue would define the specific roles to be played by the private sector, civil society, local government councils and the central government. It would also determine modalities for mutual accountability.
“This type of dialogue which was launched in 2014 as the job summit process will result in job creation actions for each of the participating partners and will form part of the implementing plan for the NSDP,” Dr Majoro said.
He said in addition, government would implement what is called the Financial Inclusion Strategy which seeks to increase access to financial products and services in the rural areas by bringing access points closer as well as deepen usage of financial products across a wide spectrum of instruments.
The Financial Inclusion Strategy will also increase the take-up and effective use of mobile money and digital finance products and services especially where such products and services are more affordable.
“Again, in support of the development of the private sector, the Ministry of Trade and Industry will undertake trade and market access facilitation, development of industrial infrastructure at Tikoe and Ha Belo, as well as the establishment of effective national standards and quality infrastructure.
“The (Trade) ministry will also present to parliament the Business Licensing and Registration Bill, the Competition Bill and the Trade and Tariff Administration Bill.”
He said once enacted, the bills would simplify trade licensing, reduce uncompetitive firm behaviour and consolidate the administration of tariffs under the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) Agreement.
He further indicated that government would establish a cabinet-level investment climate reform process similar to the Job Summit process.
This would be carried out to significantly scale up the work of the Private Sector Competitiveness and Economic Diversification programme, which he said was spearheading the economic diversification, enterprise assistance and investment climate reform processes.
“Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises are the pillar of our economy. To increase job intake of these enterprises and to expand business opportunities for the youth, government will promote and support the establishment of cooperative enterprises, construct market centres and slaughter houses, refurbish BEDCO Estates and the Lesotho Cooperatives College.”
The Finance Minister further said that government would explore ways of assisting small enterprises to secure longer leases for the premises they operated from.
“Lack of security of tenure as well as safety prevent these (small) enterprises from investing and expanding their operations even when opportunities present themselves. The Ministry of Local Government will explore policy options for extending security of tenure to these enterprises wherever they are located.”
On tourism, Dr Majoro said “government will review the cost of obtaining a visa and divest its interest in Molimo Nthuse Lodge, Bokong and Liphofung chalets, Thaba-Chitja Island, Sehlabathebe chalets to aid job creation and good upkeep of these facilities”.
“These will be transferred transparently and without any form of conflict of interest to Lesotho tourism investors,” he said.