MASERU — Lesotho has secured US$13.1 million (about M134.14 million) to fund the establishment of new small holding businesses to increase private sector competitiveness.
The agreement signed by the Finance Minister Leketekete Ketso on behalf of Lesotho and the World Bank Country Director Asad Alam on Thursday is meant to finance the private sector competitiveness programmes and provide economic diversification.
Ketso that the funding will help the country to “improve the overall business environment and increase diversification in new growth sectors pivotal for creating jobs”.
The five-year project is expected to boost growth through development of business regulation and industrial licensing reforms. “The results will include shortening the number of days in which a contractor can obtain a construction permit from 106 to less than 65 days,” he said.
The project will further support in the creation of an electronic portal for business, which will include an online database of all laws, regulations, tariffs and steps for all types of trade and industry licenses.
“It is expected to help in improving the livelihoods of rural smallholder farmers and increase food security through investment in horticulture,” Ketso said.
The project is also expected to help in tourism through the establishment of a tourism information centre and a star-grading programme which will foster improved quality in the accommodation sector thereby increasing Lesotho’s tourism competitiveness.
Alam said the programmes are aimed at reducing poverty through job creation and promoting shared prosperity.
He said the funding, which comes through the International Development Association (IDA), helps the world’s poorest countries reduce poverty by providing interest-free loans and grants to boost economic growth and improve living conditions.
“IDA funds help these countries deal with the complex challenges they face in striving to meet the Millennium Development Goals,” Alam said.
This was the second in a series of grants by the World Bank to Lesotho this year after the first, a US$ 20 million grant in June was provided to support inclusive growth and the competitiveness.