‘Govt needs to assess ministries’
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