Parly counsel office receives ICT boost

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Bereng Mpaki

THE Parliamentary Counsel (PC) office recently received information communication technology (ICT) equipment and training for its staff to improve its efficiency.

The office, which is under the ministry of Law and Constitutional Affairs, is tasked with drafting laws ahead of their approval by the Parliament.

The PC office recently received ICT equipment from the Private Sector Competitiveness and Economic Diversification Project (PSCEDP II) under the ministry of Trade and Industry.

Among the equipment were computers, monitors, iPads, printers, servers, switches and cabinets. Additional equipment which will be handed over at a later stage includes heavy duty printers, 3 –in- 1 printers, desktop computers and networking devices among others.

The capacitating programme was launched at a local hotel and was attended by minister in the Prime Minister’s office Temeki Tšolo; Law and Constitutional Affairs minister Lebohang Hlaele and acting Trade minister Tlohelang Aumane. deputy minister of Home Affairs Machesetsa Mofomobe and several representatives of the private sector also attended the event.

According to the project manager of PSCEDP II, Chaba Mokuku, the intervention is meant to speed up the processes of drafting of laws as they have direct implications on the business environment.

He said the process involves streamlining and simplifying procedures for starting and operating business and also reducing the red tape and bureaucracy.

Mr Mokuku further said these processes often involve drafting new laws or amending existing ones, which make the PC a critical agency in improving the business environment.

The other component of the PSCEDP II is concerned with promoting economic diversification through targeted support to new growth sectors such as horticulture and tourism that have tremendous potential to create sustainable jobs and improve livelihoods.

Lesotho is ranked 104th in the 2018 Ease of Doing Business report of the World Bank out of 190 other economies of the world. It is however, ranked 10th among African countries in the same report.

“We are gathered here to launch a capacity building programme for the PC to ensure that they do their work more efficiently,” Mr Mokuku said.

“Also, we are here to handover ICT equipment that will help to facilitate efficient drafting of laws.”

He said part of the equipment would go towards the office of the Attorney General and government printing since they are all related.

Mr Mokuku said they observed the challenges facing the PC office when they were involved in the development of the Companies Act of 2011. These included the shortage of ICT and the need to equip the workers on how be more efficient.

In his acceptance speech, Mr Hlaele said the support comes at an opportune time when the government is embarking on the reforms journey.

“Lack of resources often leads to underperforming staff who may end up being unpunctual because there is nothing to do at work.”

For her part, World Bank country representative Janet Entwistle, said digitisation would unlock operation of the PC and AG’s offices.

“Some legislative processes are the backbone of economic transformation. Often in the background, doing deliberations and design of economic reforms, it is the Ministry of Law and Constitutional Affairs, the AG and the office of the PC.

“They are key players in every country and that is the case in Lesotho as well. This is because all economic policies at the end of the day translate into laws and regulations aiming to improve service delivery and remove obstacles in specific sectors.

“For successful implementation strategies, they must be reflected in the country’s laws regulations and supporting constitutional framework. The legislative process is therefore key to enable the executive power cabinet through its ministries and agencies to implement the economic policies in support of economic development.

“Acknowledging this important role, the World Bank financed the Private Sector Competitiveness and Economic Diversification project has launched a series of support initiatives to the legislative process in Lesotho.

“Supporting the government to develop sound legal frameworks underpinning rapid economic transformation of the country and solid mechanisms to support the legislative process, are key priorities in our engagement in Lesotho.”

For his part, Mr Aumane said processing of laws takes between five to ten years to complete, which leads the passing of outdated laws.

“Now all the laws stuck in the pipeline due to lack of equipment and skills will be passed in Parliament through this project,” Mr Aumane said.

Mr Aumane said one of the laws that is stuck in the pipeline is the competition law.

“The competition law is very important and if passed speedily it will improve competition issues in our economy,” Mr Aumane said.

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