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MASERU

 

THE Maseru City Council (MCC) is lobbying banks and other essential service providers to decline to offer services to people who do not pay their municipal bills.

The MCC spokesperson Lintle Moerane said this would mean that every Maseru resident would be required to produce a payment slip from the council when applying for a loan from a bank.

Under the proposal, a payment slip from the MCC will be a requisite from essential services providers.

Moerane said this would not only be limited to property rates but will include all fees due to the MCC.

She said unless residents and businesses within the municipality area are forced to observe the law and acknowledge their obligations to pay the bills, the MCC will not be able to carry out its mandate of improving the lives of the people of Maseru.

“Some will accuse the MCC of not doing its best to carry out its mandate but how are they expecting the council to work when it does not have funds?” Moerane said.

“We need to raise enough revenue to ensure that all areas under our jurisdiction are clean and safe for everybody and our people should enable the council to raise that needed money.”

“So, nobody should be taken by surprise when the next time they are going to apply for loans the banks require them to produce evidence that they are paying their bills,” she said.

Moerane said they are also lobbying chiefs in villages under the jurisdiction of the MCC not to give services to people who do not honour their obligations to the council “because those villages still require the MCC for various services”.

“Apart from ensuring cleanliness in our villages, there are other services like allocation and digging of graves, which we will not give to a resident who does not pay his bills,” she said.

Moerane said the MCC’s main sources of financial revenue are mainly property rates from government properties and businesses or industrial property rates.

The government, she said, pays faithfully while industrial property owners require to be reminded almost all the time and sometimes with a little push.

“As for the residents, only a minor fraction of them honour their obligations,” she said.

“We are expecting this money to develop Maseru. Also the government pays us money for capital projects. We compile our capital projects and hence the Local Government Ministry makes proposals to parliament,” she said.

“Once that money is approved it goes straight to that project,” she said.

“As for the community members, they do not comply with the Valuation and Rating Act 1980 – they don’t pay property rates despite that they are residing in the municipality area,” Moerane said.

She said if it was not because of the open handed Road Fund that pays for the municipality’s road projects, “we would have a very serious problem as a council when it comes to building of roads”.

“This is because it is a very small percentage of people who pay their bills,” she said.

“If all of us can pay our rates, these projects can be realised,” she said.

She said the law requires that every year all property owners should have their properties valued so that they can pay their rates to the council.

Industrial property owners pay less than three percent of the total value of property, meaning that every year the property should be valued.

If the owner does not value his property, the MCC brings its own expert to value it. Also where there is a dispute over the value of the property, “we bring our own expert”.

The same principle also applies to residential properties although the difference is the percentage paid.

“With the residents, we have decided to take the lowest value of the property in the city and apply it to all residents irrespective of the value of their properties,” she said.

She said even under that arrangement a resident must pay 0.0025 percent of their properties every year “but because we realised that it would be very expensive for them the council decided on a standard rate for all, the one that will be affordable to all”.

She said a resident is required to pay M170 per month.

However, in villages where residents have grouped themselves together and hired a garbage collector they are required to pay only M100.

“It is with the understanding that they are spending the difference on garbage collection,” she said.

“For example, in Masowe the residents are using some of the money for security provision and to us that is very good because we could not afford to do that for them,” Moerane said.

“This provision of hiring a garbage collector, which we call community contracting, is very good and we wish it can be done throughout the entire Maseru city,” she said.

Business

King launches Lesotho Nation Brand

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KING Letsie III launched the Lesotho Nation Brand yesterday which he says has identified four main pillars which form the foundation of the national vision for a prosperous and thriving Lesotho.

These pillars are investment, trade, tourism, development of local products, and patriotism.

“They will be the cornerstones upon which we will build a brighter future for our children and grandchildren,” the King said.

“In investment we recognise the vital role that it plays in driving economic growth and creating opportunities for our people,” he said.

“By fostering a conducive environment for investment, we will attract both domestic and foreign capital, fuelling innovation, job creation, and accelerated growth across all sectors of our economy.”

The king said trade, in this increasingly interconnected world, serves as a catalyst for progress and prosperity.

He said through strategic partnerships and trade agreements, we will expand our market reach, promote our unique offerings, and ensure that Lesotho-made goods and services are attractive, competitive and sought after in global markets.

He said Basotho will continue to harness their God-given natural resources to drive economic growth and social transformation, and where appropriate, utilise those natural resources to create industries and businesses that can expand export offerings.

“We have always believed that our country is blessed with an array of breath-taking landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and a people whose hearts are warm and hospitable,” he said.

The King said all of these qualities and attributes are valuable ingredients for building a prosperous tourism industry.

Under this pillar, he said, Basotho will endeavour to showcase the beauty and diversity of Lesotho with the aim of attracting visitors from far and wide.

He said this will undoubtedly generate growth in Lesotho’s tourism industry and will create much needed economic opportunities for local communities.

“I am very much aware that we take immense pride in the craftsmanship and ingenuity of our people,” he said.

“This pride has to be supported and matched by a strong commitment to champion local products and industries in order to empower Basotho entrepreneurs, promote sustainable livelihoods and preserve our heritage for generations to come.”

Speaking at the launch, Prime Minister Sam Matekane said for Lesotho to truly prosper as a serious contender on the world stage, “we need all Basotho to stand united behind Lesotho Nation Brand”.

The Lesotho Nation Brand was spearheaded by the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LDNC), which is mandated to promote trade and industry for Basotho.

Staff Reporter

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Business

Powering dreams!

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STANDARD Lesotho Bank, Basotho Enterprise Development Corporation (BEDCO), and the Revenue Services Lesotho will provide M1.4 million for this year’s Bacha Entrepreneurship Project.

This was announced by the BEDCO CEO, Lemphane Lesoli, at the 2024 BEP launch in Maseru on Tuesday. The fund will be distributed among five aspiring businesses that will benefit from the project this year.

“This is to indicate significant opportunity for individuals to show innovative ideas and turn their dreams into reality,” Lesoli said.

BEP is a joint venture between Standard Lesotho Bank, Revenue Services Lesotho (RSL) and BEDCO. It was introduced in 2014 to bring a positive change and create opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Lesoli said with an investment of M8.8 million, they have supported the dreams and ambitions of over 28 businesses while at the same time providing employment to over 103 young individuals.

The call for proposals was opened to all industries until June 28, 2024.

All the industries countrywide are invited to submit their proposals.

“Whether you are passionate about agriculture, tourism or any other sector, we invite you to submit your innovative ideas,” Lesoli said.

“This is your chance to turn your vision into reality to ensure your creativity and contribute to the economy of this country,” he said.

“Your ideas have the power to shape our future and create positive change within our community. Let’s redouble our efforts to empower our aspiring entrepreneurs.”

Manager of Public Relations at the RSL, Tšepang Mncina, said the proposals will be taken for screening to select those who qualify and those who do not.

Then the panel of adjudicators will assign those proposals to shortlist 50 people.

The 50 people will have to draw their proposal because some people know nothing about their ideas and who their markets will be.

After that they will be trained so that they can be good at writing effective business proposals.

The proposals will be back to the adjudicators to adjust the top 15 that will go through pitching and psychologic tests to see if they are real entrepreneurs.

The top five will be selected and awarded a sum of M1.4 million.

Relebohile Tšepe

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Business

The road to recovery

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THE Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Business Development, Thabo Moleko, says cohesion among key stakeholders is critical to the revival of the textile sector.
Moleko was speaking at two consultative meetings held this week as part of the Expanding Enterprises Participation in Textile and Clothing Global Value Chain project.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Trade Centre (ITC), the technical partners in the project, coordinated meetings.

The consultations are a critical step towards addressing the concerns and priorities of employers and workers in Lesotho’s textile industry.

Held on Tuesday, the first meeting brought together employers in the sector.

Trade unions met on Wednesday. A joint meeting of businesses and unions will be held today. The textile project is a subcomponent of the Competitiveness and Financial Inclusion (CAFI), a government and World Bank-funded project that seeks to build a vibrant and sustainable private sector that delivers shared economic growth.

Moleko told both meetings that the consultations are critical to the successful implementation of the Enterprises Participation in Textile and Clothing Global Value Chain project which seeks to revive the textile industry.

He said Lesotho’s textile sector is currently in the doldrums as it struggles to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, wars across the globe, supply chain problems, economic challenges, declining consumer confidence and rising inflation.

In addition, Lesotho faces stiff competition from countries like Kenya, Ethiopia, Mauritius and Madagascar which have vibrant textile sectors.

Moleko said the growing power of global apparel-producing giants like China, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Vietnam has made the prospects of Lesotho’s textile industry bleaker.

He said the project is meant to reposition the sector so it can compete in the global market. The dialogue, he said, creates the platform for Lesotho to “take advantage of new opportunities emerging from the reorganization of GVCs (Global Value Chains).”

The ultimate goal, he noted, is to expand business opportunities to “reach out to new markets, improve enterprise-level productivity and employment conditions”.

His sentiments were echoed by the Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Palesa Matobako, who spoke at the same meetings.

Matobako said the meetings were meant to ensure that the project achieves its objectives of enhancing productivity, improving employment conditions and enhancing the sector’s overall competitiveness.

“The ultimate goal of this initiative (the project) is to expand enterprise participation in the global textile and clothing value chains,” Matobako.

The project will focus on workplace collaboration, total quality management, resource efficiency and cleaner production, occupational safety and health and better workforce management.

Staff Reporter

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