How Stone Shi bungled

How Stone Shi bungled

MASERU – A TOP government official has accused controversial Chinese businessman Stone Shi of running his business like a tuck shop.
Shi, the director of Maseru Dawning which runs Thaba-Bosiu Wool Centre, is at the centre of a storm involving disgruntled farmers even though he enjoys the Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s support.
Others in government seem less convinced that Shi is a bonafide businessman.
One of those is Habofanoe Makopela, the Director of Planning Unit in the Ministry of Finance.
Speaking before the parliamentary ad hoc committee dealing with farmers’ grievances on Monday, Makopela said he was roped in the wool and mohair fiasco when the subcommittee of ministers was asked to intervene.

He said he was representing the finance ministry.
He said his understanding was that the new Wool and Mohair 2018 Regulations giving buying monopoly to Shi would help farmers.
Before the regulations, farmers lost substantial amounts of money to brokers, he said.
Makopela said the operations of Maseru Dawning are facing challenges that include crippling staff shortages.
He said the Chinese businessman encouraged farmers to open bank accounts although back then they were simply paid by cheque.
He said sorting at the Thaba-Bosiu store was facing challenges resulting wool and mohair being mixed.
“The products have to be separated,” Makopela said.

He however said the facility should be given more time to put its house in order.
He said the challenges also include lack of a proper structure but the Cabinet subcommittee helped them establish a proper structure going forward.
“The businessman said the challenges will not happen again and the committee seemed to have understood,” Makopela told the committee.
He said the challenges show incompetence on the side of the business owner.

Makopela said Shi took the business lightly.
He also said Shi used to promise government that money to pay farmers was available yet on the ground farmers were not fully paid.
He said payment delays were exacerbated by the refusal by some farmers to open bank accounts.
“Shi said cheques will require a lot of stationery,” Makopela said.

Nkheli Liphoto

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