MASERU – Only M15 million of the M50 million budgeted for Covid-19 relief has been disbursed to beneficiaries in the business sector, according to the Private Sector Covid Relief Fund office.
To reduce this impact on the private sector M50 million was budgeted to fund this relief, but to date only M15 017 500 has been released from the Fund by the Ministry of Finance with M9 290 000 allocated to 1 018 formal sector businesses and M5 727 500 to the informal sector business covering 10 districts of the country.
Chaba Mokuku, Head of Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit, explained in a media briefing on Monday that they have thus far made two requests to the Ministry of Finance to pay money to selected recipients – M990 000 in July 2021 for 132 formal sector beneficiaries and M1 777 500 in October 2021 for 33 formal and 3 003 informal sector business beneficiaries.
According to the office there were 319 applications amounting to M1 925 000 that have been received from formal sector, but the business owners failed to provide their financial statements which are the key requirements.
There were certain aspects which were expected from applying business owners who claimed, such as a tax clearance, traders’ licence – and these should have been active for at least two years before the national lockdown. This applied to the formal sector.
For the informal sector they should have registered with the Ministry of Small Business, should have active numbers of Mpesa or Ecocash registered with the names they used to claim.
However, Mokuku said they encountered some challenges when doing the payments because of failure to the mentions aspects which were needed and also, they are still waiting for the balance of M34 million because to date the funds have not been received.
Considering the potential negative impact of Covid-19 in the private sector, the government of Lesotho responded to the World Health Organisation’s outcry to control the spread of Coronavirus by announcing national lockdowns beginning April 2020.
Government launched the Private Sector Covid Relief Fund, through the Lesotho Enterprise Assistance Program within the Private Sector Competitiveness and Economic Diversification Project to assist business owners in the formal and informal sectors who were badly affected.