‘Govt needs to as­sess min­istries’

Lesotho Times - - Business - Retha­bile Pitso

THE Pri­vate Sec­tor Foun­da­tion of Le­sotho (PSFL) has urged gov­ern­ment to in­ten­sively as­sess the op­er­a­tions of line min­istries to nip the ob­sta­cles that hin­der progress in im­ple­ment­ing the Na­tional Strate­gic Devel­op­ment Plan (NSDP) in the bud.

The foun­da­tion’s Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Thabo Qh­esi made the re­marks yes­ter­day dur­ing a meet­ing with mem­bers of the press to dis­cuss the im­pli­ca­tions of the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum’s (WEF) 2015 re­port on Le­sotho’s com­pet­i­tive­ness. The WEF pub­lishes a com­pre­hen­sive se­ries of re­ports which ex­am­ine in de­tail a broad range of global is­sues.

The re­port as­sessed Le­sotho’s travel and tourism global rank­ings as well as its per­for­mance on the Do­ing Busi­ness in­dex against fel­low South­ern African Cus­tom Union (SACU) mem­bers Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Swazi­land.

Le­sotho, the re­port re­veals, has stag­nated, and in some cases re­gressed in its com­pet­i­tive­ness among its coun­ter­parts in the SACU re­gion as well as in the world.

On the Travel and Tourism Com­pet­i­tive­ness In­dex, Le­sotho is ranked num­ber 129 out of 141 coun­tries as­sessed. South Africa leads the pack on the in­dex at num­ber 48 fol­lowed by Namibia at 70, Botswana 88 and Swazi­land 109.

On the Do­ing Busi­ness Re­port, Le­sotho main­tained its po­si­tion of num­ber 128 among the 189 coun­tries stud­ied be­tween last year and 2015.

“From the statis­tics taken of tourists vis­it­ing the coun­try, at a glance it ap­pears the sec­tor is do­ing well with an av­er­age of over 400 thou­sand vis­i­tors recorded to be en­ter­ing the coun­try be­tween 2010 and 2013,” said Mr Qh­esi.

“But when we delve deeper, stud­ies re­veal that most of the tourists vis­it­ing the coun­try do so as a sec­ond des­ti­na­tion to South Africa which was their first des­ti­na­tion.

“In fact th­ese stud­ies re­veal that most of th­ese tourists come through the Cale­don­spoort bor­der in Butha Buthe dis­trict to visit places that are ac­ces­si­ble through that bor­der such as the Katse Dam and Afriski re­sort in the Mahlasela area. This re­mains a chal­lenge for us to fig­ure out how best we can im­prove our tourism sec­tor.”

He added that the WEF re­port eval­u­ates a coun­try’s com­pet­i­tive­ness in the tourism sec­tor on whether it had an en­abling en­vi­ron­ment for busi­ness and sup­port­ive in­fra­struc­ture for tourism.

“Le­sotho’s air trans­port in­fra­struc­ture, for ex­am­ple, leaves a lot to be de­sired,” Mr Qh­esi noted.

“This means that when our air­ports were as­sessed, they did not meet the min­i­mum stan­dards that would en­able con­ve­nience for trav­el­ers.

“As a re­sult, some tourists may have de­cided not to come to the coun­try fear­ing they would end up be­ing stuck in the coun­try af­ter con­clud­ing that our air trans­port sys- tem was un­re­li­able.”

He called on the new gov­ern­ment to “en­gage in some in­tro­spec­tion” by us­ing the WEF re­port as a “ther­mome­ter to gauge the ob­sta­cles that are slow­ing progress” within min­istries.

PSFL, Mr Qh­esi said, would closely mon­i­tor gov­ern­ment’s re­sponse to the find­ings of the re­port.

“The WEF re­port was re­leased timeously when there is a new gov­ern­ment in place. The find­ings could be used in the for­mu­la­tion of gov­ern­ment pro­grammes and as tools of re­flec­tion and to gauge the progress made to­wards the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the NSDP,” he said.

“By this time next year, we will re­view how well gov­ern­ment and its agen­cies have taken into con­sid­er­a­tion the rec­om­men­da­tions of this re­port.

“We ap­peal to gov­ern­ment to im­prove its con­sul­ta­tive mech­a­nisms with the pri­vate sec­tor at both na­tional and dis­trict lev­els.”

PSFL CEO Thabo Qh­esi

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