‘Stop relying on Government tenders’

‘Stop relying on Government tenders’

Lemohang Rakotsoane

MASERU

THE private sector should stop relying on government tenders but instead diversify its customer base, Central Bank of Lesotho (CBL) governor Retšelisitsoe Matlanyane has said.

Speaking at the midterm economic outlook review on Monday, Matlanyane said business people should start seeking other means of making profits because in the near future the government will not be able to support their businesses.

“You are already complaining about late payments to the suppliers. Be aware that there is a time that the payments will be even more late or at some point the government might not even seek your services,” Matlanyane said.

“You should come up with plans that will ensure that you are able to stay in business even in that situation.”

Matlanyane said the current economic climate does not allow the government to be the biggest spender anymore whether it is through being the biggest employer or through being the biggest customer for businesses.

“It is time for every one of us to play their respective roles for the improvement of our country and our economy,” she said.

She added that those in the private sector should “explore other business avenues as there are a lot of sectors with potential to generate revenue that have not been tapped into or explored fully”.

“There is absolutely no need for me to use foreign reserves to buy vegetables while we have land and soil or buy water or even import wool and mohair scarves while we can do these things for ourselves,” she said.

“There is a time when I will not use the reserves for these things,” she said, adding:  “We need to use our reserves for things that we know that we cannot produce for ourselves like fuel and medicine.”

She further said retail stores should get produce from local suppliers and sell it in their stores instead of importing.

“Retail stores, if you call yourselves citizens of Lesotho then get your produce from local suppliers and not from South Africa and the Ministry of Trade should get its act together to ensure that producers here get the support they need,” Matlanyane said.

The forum was meant to evaluate and engage concerned stakeholders in order to come up with solutions to some challenges.

Speaking at the same forum, the Private Sector Foundation of Lesotho (PSFL) CEO, Thabo Qhesi, said concerned stakeholders should ensure that they level the ground for the private sector to do its job.

“There are many structural challenges that need to be addressed in order for the private sector to be able to do its job well,” Qhesi said.

“Starting a business is a challenge in this country and access to finance is just one of the many challenges that are facing the private sector,” he said.

“There is the issue of lack of quality infrastructure and late payments made to suppliers by government amongst other things.”

He added that some efforts have been made to improve the situation, especially access to finance including the establishment of the credit bureau.

“However our rankings in the ease of doing business are not improving instead they are getting bad, meaning conditions are becoming more difficult towards access to finance,” Qhesi said.

He said in terms of other means to get access to finance “we seem to explore or look at the partial credit guarantee scheme more than anything else and we package it in the same manner for all types of businesses without considering that some are start-ups, while some are big companies”.

Fako Hakane, the executive secretary of the Lesotho Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), said there is need for a change of mindset from the public sector and see the private sector as a partner.

“As long as we export our produce there isn’t much that can be achieved. We have to look at the issue of value chain for our products before exporting them, as there is a lot of money that is lost on the way when we export raw wool and mohair and diamonds,” Hakane said.

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