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Maseru

Government vows to settle Stone Shi’s debt

Business

Ntsoaki Motaung

The government has decided to once again intervene in the matter between wool and mohair farmers and the Thaba-Bosiu Wool Center by vowing to settle debts on the farmers on the behalf of the Stone Shi company for monies spanning the 2018/2019 period.

This follows a protracted payment fracas involving the farmers, Thaba Bosiu Wool Center and the government where farmers pleaded to the government to intervene so that they could be duly paid.

Tefo Mapesela the Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Marketing indicated that the government would pay farmers on behalf of the Thaba Bosiu Wool Center, after which the government will be left with recovering its money from the Center.

“Today we are just to clean lists of farmers. We have called the Wool Center and the banks to help us in the process so that at the end we will have an accurate number of farmers that are owed so that the government will also have a clear budget on how much is needed to pay the farmers,” he said.

The ministries of Agriculture, Food Security and Marketing as well as the Ministry of Small Business Development and Cooperatives have embarked on an initiative to clear the lists of the owed as per an agreement of the Cabinet.

Mapesela indicated that the process has to be completed soon since the farmers have suffered for far too long.

“We also have to finish the process sooner so that the budgets for the Ministry of Small Business Development and Cooperatives and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Marketing for this financial year can be passed in the parliament,” he said.

The event of the initiative held in Maseru earlier this week, revealed that there are some farmers who had not been paid anything for the said period, that there are some not satisfied with the sum of money they received while there are some who do not appear anywhere in the Center system.

Speaking at the event, Deputy Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu stated that, the government is committed to resolve farmers’ issues.

“The government is also committed to invest in the Wool and Mohair industry because it has proven to be capable to compete with huge industries like the sale of water, diamond industry,” he said.

He pointed out that the issue has been going on for too long hence should be resolved, adding that it is key that accurate information regarding what the farmers are owed should be forthcoming in order for government to male due budgetary preparations.

According to Tšiu Mphanya the Manager of the Ministry of Agriculture in Qacha’s Nek, there are 74 farmers in Qacha’s Nek that were not paid for their wool with a debt sum of M 1,233,530.73, while there are 34 mohair growers owed a total of M115, 654.62 and wool growers that were not satisfied with the payment they got were 98 and they are claiming M489, 202.97 and for mohair it is three farmers claiming M4373.09.

Meanwhile, the Chairperson of the Lesotho National Wool and Mohair Growers Association (LNWMGA) Mokoenihi Thinyane indicated that the association does not have a total number of famers that are owed as yet. “We are also part of the process of cleaning the lists with the government with the same aim to get a total number of farmers that were not paid or underpaid. That at the moment we do not have the exact numbers but this operation will help find out that and also find out how much is owed to the farmers,” he said.

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