MASERU – As Lesotho moves towards the finish line to finalise signing a second Millennium Challenge Corporation compact, issues of accountability remain part of the critical conditions towards the fulfilment of the targeted milestone which promises job opportunities, particularly for the country’s youths.
This was revealed by the United States Ambassador to Lesotho Rebecca Gonzales during the signing ceremony between the two countries for a compact development grant to the tune of $5.78 million (more than M75 million) to help the mountain kingdom towards the development of MCC compact II.
The ambassador noted that true prosperity of a country is not determined solely by the gross domestic product but also looks into issues of good governance, respect for human rights as well as accountability.
“Accountability is a necessary condition for all of these ideals. Strengthening institutions of accountability is necessary for progress on the second MCC compact. The watchdogs of public interest must be empowered and able to take action,” Gonzales said during a media briefing on Wednesday this week.
The Compact Development Grant agreement makes funds available to the government of Lesotho to develop a compact, or a development programme designed to reduce poverty and spur economic growth.
Under the terms of this agreement, the government is expected to use the funds to undertake feasibility studies and other activities related to the compact development process.
The ambassador highlighted also that the country should remain committed to the process of national reforms and to increase accountability across all sectors as the process enters the new development and facilitation phase.
“It is vital to understand that we still have a lot of hard work to do before we actually sign a compact between the two countries. There is still potential for delay or derailment if we do not continue purposefully on the path of reforms and political stability,” she said.
In its first compact with Lesotho, completed in 2013, MCC invested $362.5 million (over M4.7 billion) to boost economic growth and reduce poverty by improving water supply, increasing access to essential health services and removing barriers to private sector investment.
The compact resulted in over 140 rehabilitated clinics and outpatient departments, 2,300 households water connections and construction of the Metolong Water Treatment Plant and independent or joint land titles for over 17, 000 women.
The second compact will work towards those same goals through improved planning and delivery of public goods and services to enable private investment.
Finance minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro says the agreement is a critical milestone in the compact development process which has now reached its third phase. “The first two phases of the compact development processes focused on problem diagnosis, namely identification of binding constraints and their root causes.
“The government of Lesotho would like to express its deepest appreciation to the people and Government of United States of America through MCC for this grant which also aims to reduce poverty and sustainably grow the economy,” Majoro noted at the same event.
The current phase focuses on defining specific projects and programmes for resolving the identified problems.
It is anticipated that the third phase of the compact development process will be completed in April 2019 with the fourth and final phase (negotiation and signing) ending in December 2019 and June 2020 respectively.