On Friday the 28th February 2014, at Maseru Sun Cabanas, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Local Government Honourable Mothetjoa Metsing launched the much awaited Local Development Grant (LDG). The LDG is the flagship initiative under the Deepening Decentralization Programme (DDP) which provides a funding mechanism for local authorities. The specific objectives of the LDG are: to develop the capacity of Local Authorities to plan, budget and provide resources for implementation of local development and basic service delivery; to pilot a discretionary capital fiscal transfer system from central to local level and to act as incentive for decentralisation reforms as the lessons and experiences are documented and systematically fed into the reform process to improve service delivery.
Organised as a breakfast activity, the launch pulled about hundred and fifty (150) participants from various quarters, namely ministers, members of both houses of parliament, development partners, civil society, local authorities and the media.
The activity was part of a series of publicity activities designed to give public education prior to the disbursement of the LDG grants. The campaign started with the successful press conference by the Hon Minister on the 24th followed by media presentations on the 25th, both on TV and radio.
The essence of the campaign messages was that after the pre-disbursement assessment, it is possible that some districts may not qualify for the grants and would therefore benefit from capacity building initiatives in the programme, and also that they would still continue to benefit from the normal government funding to the councils.
The speeches were made by UNDP, EU and the Hon Minister. The speech of EU was delivered by Mr Theo Kaspers on behalf of the Ambassador. The speech on behalf of UNDP and UNCDF was delivered by Mr Thabo Mosoeunyane on behalf of the Resident Representative. The keynote statement was made by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Local Government, Chieftainship and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon Mothetjoa Metsing. In his speech, the minister went at length to explain what the LDG is, how it is going to be accessed and its relationship with the government development fund. He then proceeded to declare the LDG officially launched. The minister also seized an opportunity to announce that cabinet has on Tuesday, the 25th of February approved the Decentralisation Policy, which a is big milestone in the decentralisation reforms currently underway. Emphasising the complementarity between the LDG and the normal development funding by the government of Lesotho, the Honourable Minister reminded that, ‘It is important to note that normal development fund from the government of Lesotho to the local authorities will continue to flow. LDG funds are only supplementary to the normal grants of the government to the local authorities for purposes of enhancing performance, accountability and capacity at local level. So the districts that fail to qualify under the LDG mechanism will continue to receive government grants as usual, but they will be on the capacity development program’.
The event has launched the other processes towards the disbursement of the LDG in May this year. Two key processes that need to be done, which have started, are the sensitization of the councils on the LDG and the completion of the assessment on minimum conditions.