Perceptions count, says Setipa

Perceptions count, says Setipa

Lemohang Rakotsoane

MASERU – MINISTER of Trade Joshua Setipa says it is important for donors to help manage perceptions about Lesotho if this country is to graduate from being least developed country.

Setipa said this during the launch of the 2016 Least Developed Countries (LDC) Report yesterday at the UN House.
“Perceptions also count. If you are viewed to be unstable and unsafe you will never make it out of the least developed countries,” Setipa said.
“It is our duty as a government to maintain political stability,” he said.
“We should let people exercise their democratic right and change governments in parliament and not with a barrel of a gun.”
He said Italy has had 54 governments in 52 years but is not viewed as unstable.
“Even in South Africa there is a motion of no confidence in parliament every week yet they are not perceived unstable but when our people exercise their democratic right we are seen as unstable.”

The minister said donor community should also take some responsibility “otherwise every dollar or every form of assistance they give to Lesotho will not bear the desired results”.
He said as long as Lesotho is still perceived as unstable “we will never graduate or attract the necessary investors”.
He further said there is a need to evaluate LDCs differently “as different countries have different landscapes and different needs”.
He stated that landlocked countries like Lesotho need a well-coordinated regional integration strategy for their economies to grow.
Motulu Molapo, Senior Economist at the Ministry of Development Planning said the LDCs adopted the Istanbul Program of Action (IPoA) in 2011 in Turkey.
“The overarching goal of the Programme of Action for the decade 2011-2020 is to overcome the structural challenges faced by the least developed countries in order to eradicate poverty, achieve internationally agreed development goals and enable graduation from the least developed country category,” Molapo said.
The challenges Molapo referred to include low per capita income, low level of human development, and economic and structural handicaps to growth that limit resilience to vulnerabilities.

“Following the adoption of the IPoA by the LDCs, Lesotho completed its five-year medium term strategy, the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) 12/13 – 2016/17),” she said.
“This was an opportunity for the country to integrate the IPoA into the NSDP.”
Molapo said the NSDP served as a vehicle for implementation of the IPoA.
“NSDP strategic goals were developed in line with the eight IPoA priorities,” she said.
Molapo further said although the country has not been able to meet the set targets there has been progress towards that especially in the areas that are used on the criteria like GNI Per Capita, human asset index and economic vulnerability.

“The GNI per Capita stands at US$1 374 (about M18 755). This is above the graduation threshold of US$1 242 (about M16 953) but far below the graduation threshold income. The country’s GNI per capita is lower than the LDCs average of US$1 436 (about M19 604),” she said.
Molapo said the country has been working at driving sustainable economic growth through a private sector led employment creation.
She said this means facilitating private investments in the main employment creating productive sectors such as commercial agriculture, mining, manufacturing and services sectors such as tourism and construction.

She said the country’s Human Assets Index (HAI) is 62.9.
This is below the target but higher than the LDCs average of 51.5.
The human asset index reflects performance in the reduction of under-five mortality rate and percentage of population undernourished.
It also informs about the adult literacy rate and gross secondary school enrolment ratio.
Enrolment rates in secondary schools have been increasing over the years.
The total net enrolment rate has been increasing from 34.2 percent in 2010 to 37.3 percent in 2013.
Despite an upward trend in secondary school NER, the rate of increase remains low.

This low rate of increase is associated with unaffordable fees by most poor families as bursaries are only provided to Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC), Molapo said.
“There has been a decrease in under-five mortality rate from 117 recorded in 2009 to 85 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2014,” she said.
Molapo said Under 5 mortality rate was reduced through improved access to emergency obstetric care service, among others.
Another factor is engagement of skilled health or birth attendants at all health centres, scaling up reproductive health education including promotion of family planning services and essential nutrition packages for pregnant and lactating mothers.“Economic Vulnerability Index (EVI) is at 42.9 which is higher than the graduation threshold of 32 or below. This shows that the country is vulnerable to natural and other economic shocks,” Molapo said.

She showed that there are several challenges like limited financial resources, reporting challenges as well as the lack of functional monitoring and evaluation body, posing as obstacles in the way of achieving the desired IPoA targets.
Sam Rapapa, the MP for Mosalemane, said MPs and politicians should be helped to disseminate the information to people and encourage them to partake in order to enable Lesotho to graduate from being one the LDCs.

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