PRIME Minister Thomas Thabane has called for the speedy implementation of investment proposals that were put forward at the just-ended Lesotho Investment and Economic Laboratory initiative.
The Minister of Development Planning, Tlohelang Aumane, has described the initiative as a specialised public-private sector dialogue aimed at achieving investment and job creation by pinpointing and removing obstacles that impede investment.
The initiative, which involved a series of meetings among the government, the private sector and development partners, was officially opened on 13 March and closed on 4 April this month by Dr Thabane in Maseru.
According to the Bureau of Statistics, Lesotho’s official unemployment rate was 32, 8 percent in 2016, although the figure has likely risen since then.
Dr Thabane said in his opening remarks that the initiative was expected to lead to the creation of at least 22 000 jobs.
“It is our expectation that the target of creating 22 000 new direct jobs through the economic laboratories will be achieved in the near future,” Dr Thabane said on 13 March.
And in his closing remarks on 4 April, Dr Thabane challenged all stakeholders to quickly move from mere talk to the implementation of the proposals that had been tabled during the dialogue. He said swift implementation would quickly change the economic narrative of Lesotho to a positive one.
“We now have a slate of new investment proposals but the most important phase, that of implementation has to start,” Dr Thabane said, adding, it is all about implementation, implementation and implementation”.
“I cannot say it enough times. We have to deliver on our commitments. So, I am openly declaring that we commit to delivering on our commitments.
“We want fast results and we are not aiming for anything else. I learn that there is a saying in Big Fast Results lingo that ‘a plan without resources is just a draft’. Therefore, where substantial investments are required, the Ministries for Finance and that of Development Planning should take the lead and work with our development partners in mobilising new resources while maintaining macroeconomic stability and reprogramming where possible to ensure that the required public investments that will unlock the identified private investments can be secured. We should also continue to look at the investment incentives and regulatory frameworks with the aim of improving the investment climate.
“The ministers from our productive sectors have already made their commitment to implementation but they cannot solve the issues alone without synergy with other sectors. I would like to commit myself to ensure collaboration across all sectors during the implementation period. No more working in silos ladies and gentlemen, the silo mentality should be the thing of the past.”
Dr Thabane further said that the dialogue had injected a positive momentum towards the implementation of the second National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP II) whose overriding objective is to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth and private sector-led job creation.
He ended his speech by appealing to ministers and principal secretaries to take responsibility to ensure the implementation of the agreed action plans.
“Please take the baton and spearhead implementation of the agreed actions in your sectors. We are now heading towards the holding of a Jobs Summit whose date will be announced soon.
“Based on the outcomes of these economic laboratories, we will make firm commitments on the level of public sector investment to be committed and associated programmes that will support the private investments identified when we hold the Jobs Summit. In addition, the roles and responsibilities for all the stakeholders will be defined and the implementation plan will be presented along with the monitoring and evaluation framework which will be monitored weekly,” added Dr Thabane.