Mosisili scoffs at detractors
PRIME Minister Pakalitha Mosisili says the decision by Taiwanese textile company, Nien Hsing Group to invest US$20 million (approximately M270 million) represents a vote of confidence in the Lesotho’s investment climate.
Dr Mosisili made the remarks during Friday’s sod-turning event for the construction of fabric mill and factory in Ha Tikoe, Maseru.
Lesotho’s suitability as an investment destination has been under intense scrutiny in recent years as a result of the political instability from 2014, which was manifested in among other things, the snap general elections which ushered in the current government in 2015 as well as the killing of former army commander Maaparankoe Mahao and the subsequent arrest of 23 soldiers on allegations of mutiny against the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) command.
Lt-Gen Mahao was shot dead as he left his Mokema farm on 25 June 2015 by soldiers who said they had come to arrest him for being part of a group of soldiers plotting to overthrow the army leadership.
However, the Mahao family has accused the army of killing him in cold blood basing on the account of his nephews who were with him during the incident.
Dr Mosisili said Nien Hsing’s latest multi-million dollar investment was proof that his government “must be doing something right”.
“I want to express the government’s gratitude to the Nien Hsing Group for its decision for choosing Lesotho out of five countries,” Dr Mosisili said, adding, “It is a vote of confidence which says we must be doing something right.”
He said Lesotho needed more investors like Nien Hsing to help improve the economy and move out of the Least Developed Countries (LEDC) bracket.
Dr Mosisili said the government would continue to explore avenues to improve Lesotho’s investment climate to lure more investors into the country.
He also lashed out at his detractors and those who are saying Lesotho is on the verge of losing its eligibility for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a United States (US) preferential trade concession which provides for duty-free and quota free entry of goods into the US market from designated sub-Saharan African countries, including Lesotho, and applies to both textile and non-textile goods.
Lesotho’s manufacturing industry is anchored on AGOA, and without it the estimated 40,000 jobs in the industry would be at stake.
“If they believed that AGOA was going, they would not have invested in Lesotho, and this has therefore dispelled those lies about it going away,” he said.
The US government announced that eligibility for AGOA was conditional on the implementation of measures geared towards restoring political stability and respect for the rule of law and gave the government a three month timeframe until the end of the first quarter of 2017.
For his part, Nien Hsing Group Managing Director, Ricky Chang said their decision to invest in Lesotho was influenced by the warm support the people and government of Lesotho had shown them over the years they have been operating in the country.
The Group started operations in Lesotho in 1991 and operates Formosa, Nien Hsing and C and Y factories which collectively employ of 11 000 people.
“I believe the bond we have with this country will grow even stronger and continue to play a major part in the country’s economic development,” Mr Chang said.
He said the new factory would create an additional 2 000 jobs over the next three years and the second phase would also create the same number of jobs.
The Nien Hsing Textile Co. Ltd, the parent company of Nien Hsing Group is a public company listed on the Taiwan Exchange Corporation and it has production bases in Taiwan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Lesotho which collectively employ an estimated 30 000 workers.