MASERU – Finance Minister Timothy Thahane yesterday spelt out a 10-point plan to boost the economy and remove barriers to doing business in the country.
Presenting his budget speech in parliament Thahane said the government will put in place structural reforms to create a conducive and competitive investment environment.
The government says it is also planning to restructure the textile industry by creating financial facilities that will support export-import businesses for existing and local exporting firms.
The textile sector came second in 2003 as the highest job creator for Lesotho.
Thahane said the global and regional economy “will continue to impact on Lesotho negatively.”
“Like other governments elsewhere we must protect our jobs and enhance our social protection,” Thahane said.
The minister said the government will set aside “M600 million over two years, to support specific investments related to the provision of water, roads, factory shells and communications to the new firms that want to locate in our industrial estates.”
“The funds will also finance feasibility studies in small, medium and micro-enterprises who will receive training, mentoring and credit for start-up,” he said.
Thahane said the technical and management capacities of the Lesotho National Development Corporation and the Basotho Enterprises Development Corporation will be reviewed.
He said the government will encourage commercial banks to play a prominent role in supporting small business enterprises.
The government is also planning to expand investments in urban and rural roads.
“Feasibility studies and designs of several other (roads) will link the mountain areas with the lowlands thereby enabling the government to take services to the public living there,” said Thahane.
Another priority that the government has put forward is the supervision and regulation of the banking, deposit-taking and non-banking institutions.
Thahane said the government will soon establish a National Credit Bureau to track and blacklist those who do not pay their debts.
The government says it will prepare a three to five-year programme to improve the justice delivery system and fine-tune it to deliver improved services.
Thahane said the programme will involve the training of magistrates and clerks; rehabilitation and construction of central courts and their equipment and the technical and training of the police.
“The first component aims at delivering justice quickly and efficiently. The second seeks to develop a highly skilled, professional, disciplined and internationally respectable police force that has adequate facilities to work and stay in,” Thahane said.
The minister’s comments come hardly two weeks after Chief Justice Mahapela Lehohla said reforms in the judiciary which began in 2005 had failed.
Thahane said the government will also seek to tighten and control the abuse of resources within the public service.
“Included in this will be an agenda to fight fraud, crime and corruption that intercept funds destined for improving the living standards of the poor, the week and vulnerable,” said Thahane.