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Shot in the arm for informal businesses

Business

Ntsoaki Motaung

The government of Lesotho has spelled out a lucrative M 3,683,000 to 7 366 informal sector businesses in Maseru, Berea, Butha-Buthe and Leribe respectively.

This is according to the Ministry of Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing’s Progress report on the payment of wool and mohair farmers and private sector covid-19 relief fund.

The initiative was orchestrated to mitigate the impact of the novel corona to the less privileged businesses. However, it was indicated that the unavailability of data due to the unregistered businesses hampers the fast process of the funds’ disbursement.

This comes shortly after the Cabinet approved an additional M10 530 766.10 to be perked to the ministry’s annual budget on April 7, 2021 to allow the ministry to address outstanding payments of wool and mohair farmers.   

“While it is the priority of the Government to relief informal sector businesses from the adverse effects of the Covid-19 restrictions that interfered with normal business operations introduced in an effort to mitigate the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic; lack of readily available data of informal sector business hinders quick processing of payments. In addition, some of the eligible beneficiaries are not registered with MNOs to access the relief funds reducing the total number of disbursed businesses in the districts respectively,” the report read.

It further reveals that data from the Qacha’s Nek district has been received and currently being processed and was to be paid by Wednesday May 5, 2021 as per the Prime Minister’s promise. The remaining districts of Mafeteng, Mokhotlong, Thaba-Tseka, Quthing and Mohale’s Hoek will be paid within the month of May 2021. Payments were effected based on data collected at the districts by officials from the Ministry.   

The report further shows that on June 10, 2019, the National Assembly adopted the recommendations proposed by the Ad hoc committee on the wool and mohair, particularly that the Government of Lesotho should pay all farmers whose payments were outstanding for the year 2018/2019.

In an effort to implement the recommendation, Cabinet directed the Ministry along with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security to collect and verify lists of unpaid wool and mohair farmers.

The report shows that the total number of farmers whose payments were outstanding was found to be in the tune of 2 710.

“The Ministry has submitted payment vouchers to the Ministry of Finance Treasury on April 22, 2021 to pay 759 farmers with correct and verified bank accounts with the local banks; Standard Lesotho Bank M3, 078,639.39 to 643 farmers, Lesotho Post Bank M 557, 755.13 to 114 farmers and First National Bank M7, 631.58 to two farmers,” the report read.

“The payment vouchers from Treasury were submitted to the Central Bank of Lesotho and there was confirmation of the receipt of funds into the accounts where these payments were made to. Payment disbursements to the individual farmers’ accounts to the two commercial banks (SLB and FNB) will be facilitated by the Ministry of Finance and payments to LPB will be facilitated by LPB itself.” 

“Out of 2,710 farmers who were owed a total of M10, 530, 766.10, 114 farmers have been paid a total amounting to M557, 755.13 on the May 4, 2021. 749 farmers have been confirmed to have active bank accounts whereas 1,951 farmers have either no bank account, dormant, inactive, incorrect accounts.  Standard Lesotho Bank is processing payment of 633 farmers   whose payment amount of M3, 078,639.93. FNB is processing payment of two farmers a total amounting to M7, 631. It has been confirmed that the banks shall have completed payments by end of business on the May 5, 2021. The remaining 1,951 farmers without bank accounts shall be paid a total of M6, 886, 740 over the counter at the Lesotho Post Bank.  Lesotho Post Bank has confirmed that payments will be made as soon as lists have been verified,” the report read. 

According the report the Ministry has requested an additional M2, 106, 153.22 as contingency for incidental cases of farmers that may have been excluded during the stock sheets compilation at shearing sheds. All the above shall be verified after all payments have been successfully made and the queries have been submitted to the Ministry.

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