Fo­rum to chart pri­vate sec­tor growth

Lesotho Times - - Business - Retha­bile Pitso

THE Pri­vate Sec­tor Foundation of Le­sotho (PSFL) is set to hold a busi­ness fo­rum and trade ex­hi­bi­tion on 19 Novem­ber 2015 to gather in­for­ma­tion for the for­mu­la­tion of the Pri­vate Sec­tor De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme (PSDP).

Ac­cord­ing to PSFL Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Thabo Qh­esi (pic­tured) the fo­rum, which would be held at Blue Moun­tain Inn in Tey­ateya­neng, is meant to find ways to im­prove the op­er­at­ing en­vi­ron­ment for lo­cal busi­nesses.

Mr Qh­esi, who was ad­dress­ing jour­nal­ists in Maseru on Mon­day, said the fo­rum would be held un­der the theme “Ex­plor­ing in­ter­ven­tions which can as­sist the pri­vate sec­tor in achiev­ing SDGS and NSDP tar­gets”.

“We in­tend to hold dis­cus­sions on how we can achieve Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals and con­sol­i­date ini­tia­tives out­lined in the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Strate­gic Plan,” he said.

“For in­stance, we want to ex­plore how the Pub­lic Pro­cure­ment Pol­icy could be used as a tool to em­pow­ermpower lo­cal busi­nesses. The cur­rentt pol­icy does not have pro­vi­sions thatat com­pel for­eign in­vestors to en­sure ure lo­cal com­pa­nies have a stake inn their busi­nesses.

“We also want to look in­tonto the best prac­tices in im­prov­ing ng the link­ages be­tween large andd small and medium-sized busi­nesses. es. We would want a sit­u­a­tion where e large busi­nesses as­sist lo­cal sup­pli­ers iers to meet op­er­a­tional stan­dards too en­able them to out­source ser­vicesices lo­cally.”

Mr Qh­esi said the fo­rumm would also brain­storm on thee es­tab­lish­ment of eco­nomicc de­vel­op­ment zones at dis­trictct lev­els.

“We are cur­rently be­sete­set with the chal­lenge of com­mu­nimu­ni­ties build­ing homes on fer­tile le land which could oth­er­wise be usedsed for the ben­e­fit of the coun­try’s agri­cul­tural sec­tor,” he said.

Mr Qh­esi said the PSDP could be used as a mon­i­tor­ing mech­a­nism of the progress gov­ern­ment in­sti­tu­tions and its agen­cies were mak­ing within a spec­i­fied pe­riod.

“For in­stance, there is need to har­monise the tax regime to curb cor­rup­tion. Le­sotho Rev­enue Author­ity (LRA) per­son­nel do not man all the coun­try’s bor­ders and there are traders who use bor­ders with- out the tax author­ity to evade pay­ing tax,” he said.

“Be­sides Maseru, LRA only has of­fices in Le Leribe and Mo­hale’s Hoek to cater for traders in the dis­tricts. It is a chal­lengechall for traders in dis­tricts such as Mokhot­long to travel long dis­tances­dis­tan to the near­est LRA of­fice in LeribeL to ob­tain a tax clear­ance­clear­anc form which is usu­ally not availeda to them on the same day. “Most“of the time they haveh to travel back to Mokhot­long and come back to the of­fice an­other day. It is a huge in­con­ve­nience for busi­nesses.”

He said the fo­rum would also as­sess the sta­tus of in­ter­net servi vice pro­vi­sion in Le­sotho. “The“T Le­sotho Com­mu­ni­cati nica­tion Author­ity which is man­dated with reg­u­lat­ing the communications sec­tor still lacks strate­gies to en­sure the pro­vi­sion of high speed in­ter­net. As a re­sult, many busi­nesses are hand­i­capped by an in­ef­fi­cient in­ter­net ser­vice,” noted Mr Qh­esi.

“Fur­ther­more, the process of pro­mot­ing sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy as well as in­no­va­tions has re­mained stag­nant. We are not ad­vanc­ing at all in that re­gard and at the mo­ment we can only spec­u­late on whether there is an in­no­va­tion fund set aside to im­prove the sec­tor.”

He said the busi­ness fo­rum would pre­cede the launch the Pride of Le­sotho cam­paign which is meant to pro­mote lo­cal prod­ucts and help cre­ate jobs.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Qh­esi, only prod­ucts com­pli­ant with In­ter­na­tional Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Stan­dard­i­s­a­tion (ISO) re­quire­ments and recog­nised un­der the United Na­tions Global Com­pact would qual­ify to bear the Pride of Le­sotho logo.

“It has come to our re­al­i­sa­tion that most Le­sotho-made prod­ucts are un­able to ac­cess global mar­kets due to the ab­sence of a bureau of stan­dards.

“How­ever, the gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho is mak­ing strides in putting in place the nec­es­sary fa­cil­i­ties to cer­tify prod­ucts made in Le­sotho,” he added.

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