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Govt and World Bank launch partnership framework

Business

Seabata Mahao

A more intentional focus on Lesotho’s digital development, gender issues, governance, government capacity, territorial development and climate change is the heart of the World Bank-endorsed Country Partnership Framework (CPF).

The CPF aims to promote a private sector-driven and export-oriented economy that would create jobs and support an efficient and effective public sector.

Launched on Monday by the Finance and Development Planning Ministry, the Framework will cover a period of 2024-2028 and is fully aligned with Lesotho’s second National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP II) for 2018-2028.

Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly the World Bank Country Director for Lesotho, highlighted the launch’s objective of showcasing the CPF’s key features, clarifying expectations and garnering broad support for its effective implementation.

As one of Lesotho’s largest multilateral partners, the WBG currently has 11 active projects with a total commitment valued at M7.9 billion.

The CPF is a strategic document that outlines the WBG’s key objectives for the next five years. The previous CPF ended on June 30, 2020, but the new CPF was delayed due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The development of the CPF involved consultations with the WBG, the Government of Lesotho, the private sector, the diplomatic community, development partners, youth, and marginalized groups.

Dr Rets’elisitsoe Matlanyane, Finance and Development Planning Minister, acknowledged the slow implementation of previous projects and expressed the government’s commitment to addressing the issues that hindered progress.

Matlanyane highlighted a need to reform the structure of Project Implementation Units (PIUs), to strengthen project monitoring and evaluation systems and standardise activities for improved reporting and accountability.

“In the coming week, we will have a two-day World Bank’s Portfolio Disbursement Workshop as one of the measures taken to improve the portfolio performance. We commit to jointly address implementation challenges to ensure speedy utilisation and absorption of resources to derive measurable outcomes,” she said.

Matlanyane also stressed the urgent need to tackle high youth unemployment in Lesotho and emphasised that opportunities presented through frameworks like the CPF should be embraced to foster inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

“The high rate of unemployment especially among the youth is quite exigent. The opportunities availed through avenues such as Country Partnership Frameworks, therefore, come at an opportune time and must be embraced with the earnestness and with a sense of appreciation that they deserve,” she said.

“We cannot afford to miss the privilege to stir the engines of our economy into the desired harbour of inclusive and sustainable growth,” she added.

Over the next five years, the government will, according to the minister, implement the extended NSDP II, a blueprint for the country’s development efforts.

She said the new CPF is fully aligned with Lesotho’s priorities, as articulated in its three High-Level Outcomes (HLOs) and Seven CPF Objectives.

The CPF is expected to provide financial support for Lesotho through national allocations and other financing options aligned with specific goals.

“The government will engage with the World Bank Country Office to determine the best financing options under these new windows, considering efficiency, risk, and costs,” she said.

The CPF cycle will also consider a Development Policy Operation (DPO) to accelerate reforms. This support aims to reduce fiscal pressures, enhance public spending efficiency and transparency, and strengthen human capital development as a crucial driver of economic growth.

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