Mosisili’s rich dream

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MASERU — Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili has reiterated his wish to see the creation of “many Basotho millionaires” to arrest the scourge of poverty and unemployment.
Addressing a dinner hosted by the Private Sector Foundation of Lesotho (PSFL) in Maseru at the weekend, Mosisili said it was not a sin to be rich as long as one used their skills and energies to legally accumulate wealth.
“Let’s work together to create many Basotho millionaires because they will create jobs for other Basotho and help in curbing unemployment and poverty,” Mosisili told businessmen  gathered for the event.
He said his government had belatedly recognised that the public sector could not go it alone in the quest for economic growth in the country as it needed strong partnership with the private sector. 
It was therefore now time for the private sector to play a clearly defined role in the development of the country.
“The government and the private sector need each other if we are to improve the ease of doing business in Lesotho as well as the economic competitiveness of the country,” he said.
The government was therefore committed to improving the business environment through continuous dialogue with the business sector to facilitate enactment of enabling legislation, he said.
“Together, we have a vision of where we want this country to be 10 years from now. We know what reforms are required to get us there. But the time it is taking us to design and implement these reforms is simply too long,” Mosisili said.
“Consequently, Lesotho finds herself slipping lower and lower on international rankings while other countries are reforming faster,”  he said.
He urged the public and private sector to unite in ensuring the improvement of key World Bank indicators of doing business such as how long it took to start a business, to register property, to get a construction permit, to get credit and to trade across borders, among others.
He said improvement of these indicators would help attract foreign investment and improve Lesotho’s ratings.
Mosisili said it was the government’s duty to enact legislation that enhanced business.
But he admitted that the government may not always know the best laws to enact and those impinging on the development of business.
It was therefore crucial for businesses to join organisations like the Private Sector Foundation of Lesotho to enable them to influence decisions and provide input on the best laws to enact to improve the business environment, he said.
Reforms to improve Lesotho’s investment climate were particularly crucial, he said.
Mosisili said equally important was the need for appropriate business skills, training, access to credit, close monitoring and evaluation and learning  best business practices from others.
Giving the example of Chinese traders who had invested in Lesotho, Mosisili said: “We need to learn what they are doing well and learn from them.”
With a holistic approach to business and a reservoir of well groomed entrepreneurs, it could become necessary for the government to legislate and keep foreigners from venturing into certain trades and reserving those for Basotho.
“We can then say to them, with your financial muscle, please venture into bigger things that are in line with your financial muscle and leave smaller trades to locals,” he said. 
The PM also questioned what he perceives as the bitterness among Basotho. “We are a nation of bitterness. Why?” he said.
“What are we angry about and who are we angry with? When good things happen, people don’t realise these because of their bitterness. Why?”
If Lesotho is to follow the examples of other countries and develop, the nation needed to get rid of “this bitterness” and a change of mindset so that citizens became progressive minded.
Addressing the same gathering, PSFL chairman, Osman Moosa, said his organisation was working on a proper vision clearly indicating where it wanted to be and how to get there.
“A proper work plan, well thought out budget, transparency and looking at possible market indicators constitute the vibrancy of any private sector,” said Moosa.
He said the PSFL aimed to ensure that organised business played a constructive role in Lesotho’s economic growth and “achieving growth in businesses of all sizes and in all sectors”
The organisation aimed to, among other things, act as the principal representative of business in Lesotho, promote a broad-based National Economic Empowerment programme akin to South Africa’s BEE, influence appropriate legislation aimed at job creation and poverty alleviation and empower indigenous Basotho with appropriate business skills.
He urged business to join the PSFL describing it as the best conduit to engaging government.
The organisation said it shared Mosisili’s wish to see the creation of more “Basotho millionaires”.

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