PM sees key role for private sector

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MASERU — Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili last Friday said the private sector can act as an engine and catalyst for economic growth.
Mosisili made the remarks as he officially launched the Business Council of Lesotho and the Private Sector Foundation of Lesotho in Maseru last Friday.
The business council seeks to enhance co-operation between the government and the private sector.
It also seeks to provide a platform for dialogue between the government and private sector.
The council will be chaired by Mosisili with the assistance of cabinet ministers and representatives from the private sector.
Speaking at the launch, Mosisili said the establishment of the council was a significant milestone in the economic development of Lesotho.
“In many countries the private sector has been identified and recognised as a driver of socio economic growth and development,” Mosisili said.
“The purpose of this council is to facilitate dialogue on strategic plans of participating in developing the economy of the country.”
The prime minister said Lesotho had earned a reputation for good governance and has experienced high economic growth since the 1990s.
He said this was driven by public sector spending through projects such as the Lesotho Highlands Water Project.
“Since 2005 the mining sector has been a major contributor in growth of the economy of the country with the opening of the Letšeng Diamond mine, resuming of operations in the Liqhobong and Kao mines,” Mosisili said.
He said the launch of the business council came at a time of unprecedented challenges for Lesotho brought about by the current global economic crisis.
He said Lesotho was also facing huge challenges in falling revenues from the Southern African Customs Union as well as declining agricultural yields.
Clothing exports to the United States had also declined affecting Lesotho’s economy.
“(The current global financial crisis) threatens to reverse the economic gains which the country has already achieved,” he said.
“In Lesotho the textiles sector is competing with serious competitors such as Bangladesh which exports four times the exports from sub-Saharan Africa to the US.”
Mosisili said some companies had also relocated to neighbouring countries resulting in massive job lay-offs for Basotho.
“These challenges notwithstanding, the government of Lesotho remains committed to staying focused on efforts intended to achieve aspirations of our people as reflected in our Vision 2020,” Mosisili said.
The prime minister said there was need to generate internal income to substitute for the decreasing external income.
He said the government had already put in place mechanisms to promote investments and small, micro and medium enterprises to boost Lesotho’s economy.
The chairman of the Private Sector Foundation of Lesotho, Osman Moosa, said it was important for the private sector to work together to improve the economy and well-being of the people of Lesotho.
“It is our responsibility as the business community to uplift Lesotho from least developed country status, also from under a dollar a day status by reducing unemployment in the country,” Moosa said.
“Commitment and collaboration of all sectors can help reduce the high unemployment rate, which currently stands at 45 percent,” Moosa said.
He said although the private sector was facing serious challenges it could still capitalise on the opportunities that the country has to offer.
“One of our recommendations is to set up a competition committee which will protect local businesses against unfair competition,” Moosa said.

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