BEDCO lob­bies for SMME pol­icy

Lesotho Times - - Business - Billy Ntaote

BA­SOTHO En­ter­prise Devel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (BEDCO) Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer, Robert Likhang, has called for a com­pre­hen­sive small, mi­cro and medium en­ter­prise ( SMME) pol­icy to ex­tri­cate Le­sotho’s econ­omy from its least de­vel­oped sta­tus.

Mr Likhang, who made the re­marks while ad­dress­ing BEDCO ten­ants at the paras­tatal’s Se­baboleng of­fices on Tues­day, said the for­mu­la­tion of a min­istry ded­i­cated to SMMES was a mile­stone worth cel­e­brat­ing.

The Min­istry of Small Busi­ness Devel­op­ment, Co­op­er­a­tives and Mar­ket­ing is headed by Thabiso Litšiba and came about fol­low­ing a split of the for­mer Min­istry of Trade, In­dus­try, Co­op­er­a­tives and Mar­ket­ing. The BEDCO boss said the new min­istry would go a long way to­wards en­sur­ing all SMMES grow and are sus­tain­able busi­nesses.

“We agree that all gov­ern­ments are de­pen­dent on SMMES. In the United States, about 60 per­cent of rev­enue for the fis­cus is made by small busi­nesses, while in neigh­bour­ing South Africa about 75 per­cent comes from SMMES,” said Mr Likhang.

“We have also learned that big cor­po­ra­tions’ en­gage­ment in the devel­op­ment of SMMES goes a long way to­wards en­sur­ing the devel­op­ment of a coun­try’s econ­omy. In South Africa to­day, the pri­vate sec­tor has con­trib­uted M20 bil­lion for SMMES devel­op­ment in an ef­fort to as­sist gov­ern­ment.

“We need to have such ini­tia­tives here in Le­sotho as dwin­dling gov­ern­ment ent cof­fers can­not meet the need.”

He added that BEDCO’S push sh for the for­mu­la­tion of a SMMES pol­icy was part of ef­forts to di­ver­sify the sources off fi­nanc­ing for SMMES.

“We want to have a pol­icy that eases the cost of do­ing busi­ness for al­lll SMMES. A pol­icy that re­duces taxes for SMMES in their dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories and puts ts in place tax­a­tion regimes that do not re­sult sult in the down­fall of busi­nesses but en­cour­ages­rages their growth,” Mr Likhang said.

He also re­vealed that the paras­tatal­statal had en­tered into a part­ner­ship with thehe Le­sotho Rev­enue Author­ity and com­mer­cial ial banks to en­sure they con­trib­ute to­wards ards the estab­lish­ment of SMMES. “We are com­mit­ted to workork on dif­fer­ent strate­gies es to re­duce the fi­nan­cial al strain on small busi­nesses in Le­sotho and en­sure theirr growth. How­ever, what is cen­tral is an over­ar­ch­ing pol­i­cy­ol­icy that guar­an­tees the devel­op­ment evel­op­ment of SMMES in the coun­try,”un­try ” Mr Likhang noted.

BEDCO, he said, was al­ready in the process of fi­nal­is­ing a Mem­o­ran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing with the Le­sotho Na­tional Devel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (LNDC) aimed at as­sist­ing SMMES to ac­cess in­fra­struc­ture owned by the cor­po­ra­tion among other is­sues the two agen­cies will col­lab­o­rate on.

“We need to es­tab­lish SMMES parks. Such places would ide­ally have a com­mer­cial cen­tre to at­tract cus­tomers, the small busi­nesses park and an in­cu­ba­tion cen­tre for start-ups,” said Mr Likhang.

“If we were to re­ceive the funds we need, we would pri­ori­tise turn­ing around the BEDCO Se­baboleng premises and the BEDCO premises in Hlotse Leribe.”

He said just like the LNDC, BEDCO needed to also have fac­tory shells for Ba­sotho-owned en­ter­prises to en­sure there is a place for bud­ding SMMES upon the ex­pi­ra­tion of their stay in in­cu­ba­tion cen­tres.

“We need to see the in­cu­ba­tion cen­tres work in the strictest sense and the traf­fic mov­ing through the in­cu­ba­tion cen­tres and the suc­cess­ful SMMES mov­ing out to the fac­tory shells too.

“All this can only hap­pen if we have a clear pol­icy on how to run SMMES and fund them ad­e­quately as a coun­try.”

BEDCO CEO Robert Likhang

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