Busi­ness ‘con­cerned’ over failed poli­cies

. . . says Pri­vate Sec­tor De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme could be the an­ti­dote

Lesotho Times - - Business - Retha­bile Pitso

THE Pri­vate Sec­tor Foun­da­tion of Le­sotho (PSFL) has urged govern­ment to ap­prove its Pri­vate Sec­tor De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme (PSDP) aimed at “con­sol­i­dat­ing” ini­tia­tives out­lined in the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Strate­gic Plan (NSDP).

Ac­cord­ing to PSFL Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Thabo Qh­esi, one of the rea­sons for the slow im­ple­men­ta­tion of govern­ment to de­velop ini­tia­tives was lack of co­or­di­na­tion be­tween line min­istries and key role-play­ers.

Mr Qh­esi, who was ad­dress­ing jour­nal­ists in Maseru on Monday, said de­spite launch­ing sev­eral ini­tia­tives for eco­nomic growth, “there is lit­tle im­pact on the ground”, hence the Foun­da­tion’s for­mu­la­tion of the PSDP. The PSDP would con­sol­i­date all de­vel­op­ment ini­tia­tives with clear tar­gets and im­ple­men­ta­tion-frame­works, he added.

How­ever, Mr Qh­esi noted the PSDP’S suc­cess would de­pend on sup­port from all stake­hold­ers such as govern­ment de­part­ments, the busi­ness com­mu­nity, civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions and in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment part­ners.

He fur­ther said the PSDP would en­able a proper re­view of any progress ini­ti­ated to­wards the ful­fil­ment of the projects in the NSDP.

“We have re­alised that one of the contributing fac­tors for the slow im­ple­men­ta­tion of the NSDP is lack of co­he­sive­ness be­tween line­m­i­nistries and rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers in the busi­ness com­mu­nity.

“This has made it dif­fi­cult for govern­ment to mon­i­tor the progress of on-go­ing pro­grammes hence our sug­ges­tion to adopt the PSDP. The PSDP would solely con­cen­trate on key pro­grammes which would fur­ther al­low us to es­tab­lish tar­gets within a spec­i­fied pe­riod.

“The pro­gramme has worked in coun­tries such as Botswana, Kenya and Zam­bia be­cause it has a spe­cific fo­cus. It would as­sist the coun­try to move for­ward in its eco­nomic em­pow­er­ment en­deav­ours and lead to the creation of real jobs as stud­ies have re­vealed in Botswana, for in­stance,” he said.

Mr Qh­esi fur­ther em­pha­sized the need for govern­ment to con­sider new ap­proaches when im­ple­ment­ing projects, such as giv­ing pri­or­ity to lo­cal con­sul­ta­tions for the sake of con­ti­nu­ity.

“We wish to com­mend govern­ment in its ef­forts to level the play­ing field for pri­vate sec­tor de­vel­op­ment. The Foun­da­tion has noted some draft poli­cies and has en­gaged in their fa­cil­i­ta­tion such as the Mi­cro, Small and Medium En­ter­prises Pol­icy for Le­sotho (June 2011), In­vestor Roadmap Le­sotho (Feb 2012), Di­ag­nos­tic Trade In­te­gra­tion Study (Dec 2012), Le­sotho CAADP Com­pact (Sept 2013), Na­tional In­vest­ment Pol­icy of Le­sotho of 2013, Pub­lic Pri­vate Part­ner­ship Pol­icy (Jan­uary 2014), SADC Trade Re­late Fa­cil­ity (March 2015), AGOA Re­sponse Strat­egy for Le­sotho (April 2015), and SADC In­dus­trial Strat­egy and Roadmap (Au­gust 2015) among oth­ers.

“These poli­cies were es­tab­lished in good faith but up to now, there has not been much progress to­wards ex­e­cut­ing them. With the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the NSDP which should be spear­headed by lo­cal con­sul­tants, it would of­fer con­ti­nu­ity of projects that have been in­tro­duced in line with the de­mands en­shrined within the NSDP.

“As a coun­try, we need to move away from the be­hav­iour of show­ing com­mit­ment at the in­tro­duc­tion of a project and when for­eign con­sul­tants are around but later fail to fully ex­e­cute it.

“Some of these draft poli­cies were in­tro­duced a long time ago but due to lack of proper co­or­di­na­tion, they have failed to see the light of day,” he said.

Mr Qh­esi fur­ther said the PSFL was con­cerned with Le­sotho’s stag­nated sta­tis­tics re­vealed in the World Bank Do­ing Busi­ness 2015 report.

“The report has shown that out of 128 South­ern African Cus­toms Union (SACU) coun­tries, Le­sotho has re­mained at num­ber 128 since 2014 whilst Namibia, Botswana, Swazi­land, Mozam­bique and South Africa have shown no­table progress.

“The report shows re­ces­sion in ar­eas such as ‘get­ting elec­tric­ity’, ‘en­forc­ing con­tracts’, ‘deal­ing with con­struc­tion pay­ments’ and ‘reg­is­ter­ing prop­erty’, which deal with as­sess­ing po­ten­tial for in­vestors to get those ser­vices.

“It is the per­spec­tive of PSFL that those low num­bers may have been af­fected by fac­tors such as lack of proper town-plan­ning, high costs of in­stalling elec­tric­ity for busi­ness pur­poses and high con­sump­tion rates.

“We also be­lieve that am­bi­tious pro­grammes such as the One Stop Busi­ness Fa­cil­i­ta­tion Cen­tre, which sought to en­able easy ac­cess to plat­forms for start­ing busi­nesses, have failed to de­cen­tralise pro­grammes through­out the coun­try re­sult­ing in lack of ac­cess for the youth,” Mr Qh­esi added.

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