By Billy Ntaote
MASERU — Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) Lesotho was on Tuesday replaced by the newly formed Lesotho Millennium Development Agency (LMDA).
LMDA will until December oversee the completion of all outstanding projects that were previously managed by MCA.
MCA Chief Executive Officer Sophia Mohapi said this week the MCA ceased to exist by January 14 and the LMDA has taken over all incomplete MCA projects.
The MCA was an independent authority established by the government to implement the Lesotho compact funded by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) over a period of five years from 2008 to 2013.
The compact had up to US$362.6 million (over M3 billion) to reduce poverty and increase economic growth.
Projects undertaken under the compact include the debit/smart card project implemented through Lesotho Postbank and the groundwork for the establishment of a local Credit bureau.
The MCA-Lesotho compact also facilitated the training of judicial and traditional leaders, police officers, chiefs, faith and community based organizsations and some members of the public including men, women and youth on gender and economic rights.
Mohapi said at the end of the compact on September 17 last year, the MCA was given 120 days, which lapsed on Tuesday, to complete all its projects and now all outstanding projects have been taken over by the LMDA which she would continue to chair.
She said the introduction of the LMDA is basically a change of name now that the MCA’s time has ended and the agency would now be retaining a skeleton staff complement to complete all work left.
Mohapi said the staff remaining are mainly from the accounts department to facilitate all outstanding payments, procurement for anything that needs to be acquired to finalise projects, the monitoring and evaluation unit for the inspection of all work done and the information technology staff for capturing data on the projects and storing it as agreed with government of Lesotho and MCC.
She said in particular the residue staff will ensure that contractors have completed construction work properly as per agreed standards and to carry out inspections of all sites of incomplete projects, especially the health infrastructure construction.
The chairman of the MCA board of directors, Principal Secretary in the Finance Ministry Mosito Khethisa, said the control of the Metolong Dam and urban and peri-urban water conveyance systems for the dam have been transferred to the Metolong Authority.
Khethisa said the LMDA would now be holding onto retention bonds funds to ensure all projects by contractors are up to set standards and any defects identified would be repaired throughout the year.
He said as Lesotho works on finalising the remaining compact projects, there is need to ensure the country maintains the same standard of diligence and high performance.
Khethisa said good performance would ensure that Lesotho continues to be amongst countries that qualify for a second compact of the MCC as countries have been disqualified for bad performance even after being deemed to be eligible for more funding.
He said the Development Planning Ministry is now working to identify the crucial needs of the country for developing a second compact proposal for funding.
He said unlike the first compact that included multiple projects, the second compact can only finance about two projects hence it would be important to ensure Lesotho keeps its good quality performance on the projects being completed.