By Letuka Chafotsa
MASERU — The second phase of the Private Sector Competitiveness and Economic Diversification Project (PSCEDP) was launched at a local hotel last Thursday.
The project seeks to fight pervasive poverty through the development of the private sector to create jobs in Lesotho.
The first phase, a five-year programme specifically meant to improve the public sector, was launched in 2007.
Speaking at the launch of PSCEDP Phase Two, the Private Sector Competitiveness Project Manager Chaba Mokuku said that the objective of the second phase was to facilitate increased private sector investment by improving the business environment through strengthening ministries that can create jobs.
“The project is aimed at focusing at the growth sector, to remove obstacles to the business environment, reduce costs of doing business while strengthening the linkages and integration of Lesotho with the regional economy,” Mokuku said.
He added that the project would contribute to the government’s poverty reduction and economic growth strategy by helping to create the necessary conditions to improve private sector competitiveness, growth and job creation.
The second phase of PSCED would also improve access to finance in Lesotho.
“The project will improve access to finance by providing a stable and predictable loan market and credit worthiness system, providing a diversified set of financial services and extending these new services to the unbanked population,” Mokuku said.
Mokuku emphasised that business regulation, industrial licensing and construction permit reform would be strengthened under the project.
In order to support the tourism value chain, it was necessary to establish systems that quantify and track performance of the relevant sectors in a better way, he said, adding that the phase would also ensure
that Lesotho’s unique offerings are strengthened.
Mokuku said expanding commercial horticulture was also pivotal to Lesotho’s economic growth.
“The project would further transform strategic areas in Lesotho into major producers and exporters of early variety crops by demonstrating that commercial deciduous fruit production is competitive and sustainable,” Mokuku said.
Sekhulumi Ntsoaole, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Cooperatives and Marketing, said that the project was aimed at developing the private sector for the next four
to five years.
“The five-year project is expected to boost growth through development of business regulation and industrial licensing reforms,” Ntsoaole said.
Ntsoaole added that the project would further support the creation of an electronic portal for business which would include an online database of all laws, regulations, tariffs and steps for all types of trade and industry licenses.
“Private sector development can have a dramatic positive impact on poverty reduction,” he said.
Ntsoaole said that the first phase which started in 2007 was a success story so there was no doubt that the second one would equally be successful.