Commemoration of Micro, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises Day
03 July 2020
Speech by the UN Resident Coordinator at the commemoration event of MSME Day 2020.
Bo Mme le Bo Ntate, Khotsong.Please allow me to pay my respects to:
HIS MAJESTY KING LETSIE III
THE RIGHT HONOURABLE THE PRIME MINISTER
HONOURABLE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE
HONOURABLE SPEAKER OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
HIS LORDSHIP PRESIDENT OF THE COURT OF APPEAL
HER LADYSHIPSHIP THE ACTING CHIEF JUSTICE
HONOURABLE DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER
HONORABLE MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT
HONOURABLE MINISTERSAND DEPUTY MINISTERS OF HIS MAJESTY’S CABINET, PARTICULARLY THE MINISTER OF SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, COOPERATIVES AND MARKETING
THEIR LORDSHIPS JUDGES OF THE COURT OF APPEAL AND THE HIGH COURT
MEMBERS OF THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS AND HEADs OF INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS;
THE PRINCIPAL SECRETARY IN THE OFFICE OF THE PM
SENIOR GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS
REPRESENTATIVES OF ENTERPRENEURS
MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA
DISTINGUISHED GUESTS, BO MME LE BO NTATE,
On behalf of the UN System in Lesotho, I am honored to make a few remarks today as we celebrate the MSME Day in Lesotho.
MSMEs play a very important role in any economy, big or small. I would like to use a lay man’s example: if you go to a market, you will see many kiosks selling goods or providing quick services. A market is made of kiosks. At the level of a country, enterprises, big and small, are the kiosks which constitutes the economy. And MSMEs play a vital role in an economy.
Today we are here to talk about the economy. And we are talking about the economy at a time when nations and communities are facing an unprecedented crisis, the Coronavirus pandemic. Covid-19 has started as a health crisis and it is turning into social and economic crisis. As you know, to prevent the spread of the disease, Lesotho went into lockdown in March. Long before the first case was recorded in Lesotho, we were already feeling its negative impact on many fronts including the negative effects on business and trade. I am sure many of you in this room have real life stories about that.
Today, the epidemic has struck home, the pandemic is accelerating across the world and the number of cases is rising in Lesotho.
So it takes courage to go out and talk about the economy when people’s lives are under threat from Covid-19. But it is important to talk about the economy because our livelihoods depend on it. So, in essence, we are talking about lives and livelihoods. I use this opportunity to commend the Ministry of Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing for organizing this event, and for inviting me.
According to the programme, this is a dialogue between entrepreneurs, government, umbrella organizations and partners on how to build resilience among MSMEs and how to make them enhance local production . We are engaging this dialogue with the belief that there will be a post-Covid19. This too will end! That’s why we have to be bold to think about the future.
Distinguished Guests , Bo Mme le Bo Ntate
This year, the United Nations turns 75. This milestone is being reached at a time of great disruption. So, we have to ask ourselves a few difficult questions. How do we go through this? Will we come out stronger and better or not? Will distrust continue to grow? What is the future of the economy of Lesotho? Where do we want to be after Covid-19?
In January 2020, before Covid-19 was declared a pandemic, the UN launched a global conversation to seek the views of the people across the world. This initiative was called UN75. By this initiative, the UN wants to listen to the people, their dreams and aspirations, their ambitions for their world. This conversation has already started and has engaged people from all walks of life from boardrooms to classrooms, and now it is your time to have your say. As the business community, I invite you to the UN75 initiative. Express yourselves, share your dreams and concern, be part of the conversation. You can do this by taking a very short survey, which will only take you one minute to complete at www.un75.online
In light of COVID19, we will be hosting online dialogues and webinars and other events leading up to UN Day in October. If you are wondering why you should join, my answer is: you are a citizen of this world and the world needs your ideas. We expect hundreds of millions to participate. Your views, concerns and ideas will be collected, analyzed, summarized and presented to world leaders during the UN General Assembly in September 2020. After September, groups around the world will discuss how best to take forward the priorities and proposals generated. Each conversation is an opportunity to encourage individuals to take actions in their own lives in line with what they have heard and learned.
I look forward to hearing from you all through this initiative.
Distinguished Guests , Bo Mme le Bo Ntate
In March this year, the UN Secretary General issued a report titled: “Shared Responsibility, Global Solidarity: Responding to the Socio-Economic Impacts of Covid-19”. This report describes the impact of the pandemic. Following that report, the UN issued a Framework for the immediate socio-economic response to Covid-19. On economic recovery, the framework says:
Economic recovery is about protecting jobs and workers; ensuring decent work; and protecting productive assets, productive units and productive networks during the crisis. Ensuring the continued or improved functioning of small producers, informal workers and SMEs across sectors is vital to ensure production of, and access to, food and other essential goods and services.
In Lesotho, the UN, the World Bank and the African development Bank have just completed a joint assessment of the socio-economic impact of Covid-19 on Lesotho. This is an attempt to understand the impact and plan the response. One of the recommendations of the assessment is to:
Adopt a three-phased programme to support micro and small enterprises (MSMEs) through a) immediate relief measures to resuscitate business activities following the lockdown; b) re-activation of business activity once the virus is contained; and c) recovery of economic growth and rethinking new ways of doing business taking into account technological, financial and access solutions in order to make MSEs and the informal economy more resilient to potential future shocks.
As part of this, a more detailed assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on MSMEs will be undertaken. This is to say just how important MSMEs.
As I conclude, I want to reiterate that the UN System is working hand in hand with the government and the people of Lesotho. We are all in this together!