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Majoro wants security of tenure for SMMEs



MASERU – MINISTER of FINANCE Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro says the government will do its utmost to reduce SMMEs’ lack of security of tenure.
Speaking during his budget speech yesterday, Majoro said absence of security of tenure “prevents these enterprises from investing and expanding their operations even when opportunities present themselves”.

“The Ministry of Local Government will explore policy options for extending security of tenure to these enterprises wherever they are located,” Majoro said.
“Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises are the pillar of our economy,” he said.
The minister said the government, with the aim to increase job intake of these enterprises and to expand business opportunities for the youth, will promote and support the establishment of cooperative enterprises.
He also said the government will construct market centres and slaughter houses, and refurbish the Basotho Enterprises Development Corporation (BEDCO) estates and the Lesotho Cooperatives College.
“To this extent, M211.9 million is proposed to be allocated to the Ministry of Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing,” he said.
The ministry’s recurrent budget is M99.9 million while its capital budget is M112 million.
Turning to the development of the private sector as a whole, Majoro said in an endeavour to support it the Ministry of Trade “will undertake trade and market access facilitation, development of industrial infrastructure at Tikoe and Ha-Belo, and establishment of effective national standards and quality infrastructure”.
“The Ministry will also present to Parliament the Business Licensing and Registration Bill, the Competition Bill and Trade and Tariff Administration Bill,” Majoro said.
“When passed, these bills will simplify trade licensing, reduce uncompetitive firm behaviour, and consolidate the administration of tariffs under the SACU Agreement,” he said.
He proposed M194.8 million for this ministry.

He said the Private Sector Competitiveness and Economic Diversification programme, which falls under the Ministry of Trade, is spearheading the economic diversification, enterprise assistance and investment climate reform.
“The good work generated in the last decade needs to be scaled up significantly,” he said.
“Building on this, and during the course of the year, government will establish a cabinet-level investment climate reform process similar to that under the Job Summit process,” the minister said.
Majoro said the government “continues to identify tourism as a key pillar of development in its quest to diversify the economy”.
He said during the current financial year, the government will introduce a regulatory regime to promulgate sound tourism legislation to regulate the tourism sector for the benefit of domestic investors.

“In addition, government will review the cost of obtaining a visa and divest its interest in Molimo Nthuse Lodge, Bokong and Liphofung chalets, Thaba-Chitja Island, Sehlabathebe chalets to aid job creation and good upkeep of these facilities,” Majoro said.

“These will be transferred transparently and without any form of conflict of interest to Lesotho tourism investors,” he said.
Majoro said grading of tourism facilities is also on-going to uphold international service standards.
“Government will also complete the revised tourism master plan, tourism investment policy and promotion strategy, and the community-based tourism blueprint,” he said.
He proposed M220.8 million for the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Culture.

Majoro said the government will also diversify the economy and create jobs by scaling up commercial production of deciduous fruit (peaches, apples, apricots, pears etc) in the country by promoting investment in this new sector.

“The pilot phase of this initiative has demonstrated that Lesotho has comparative advantage over South Africa in terms of quality of produce and time to market, with Lesotho fruits ripening 2-3 weeks earlier than those from South Africa due to favourable climatic conditions,” he said.

“A national suitability map of deciduous fruits has been produced in preparation for the roll out.”
The project is in the process of developing a strong value chain for the sub-sector with focus on strengthening the supply side, removing market barriers and meeting market requirements.
He said the intention is to bring on stream an additional 50 hectares during the current financial year.

Staff Reporter

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