Lesotho has been simultaneously hit by the pandemic, declining transfers from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), and the impact of the war in Ukraine. The pandemic exacerbated the impact of sluggish regional performance, climate shocks, and longstanding structural issues such as regulation, governance, political stability, financial inclusion, and diversification. Public expenditure has continued to increase, such that the decline in external transfers precipitated significant financing pressures and growing domestic arrears. With limited inflows to the private sector, the resulting public sector-driven external imbalances have continued to put pressure on international reserves needed to maintain the exchange rate peg.
In response to a request from the authorities and as part of the Data for Decisions (D4D)1 funded project under the submodule for Fiscal and Debt reporting, a government finance statistics (GFS) technical assistance (TA) mission was held remotely with the Lesotho Ministry of Finance (MOF) during April 5–16, 2021. Previous TA missions under the Enhanced Data Dissemination Initiative (EDDI2) over the period spanning from 2016 to 2020 assisted the MOF to improve GFS compilation and dissemination for the budgetary central government (BCG) and inspired action to broaden data coverage to include local governments and extrabudgetary units (EBUs) with the aim to compile and disseminate consolidated general government GFS. Preliminary local government GFS have now been compiled, and data collected for selected state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and parastatals, including non-market SOEs that can now contribute to preliminary general government GFS to be compiled.
The paper provides brief updates for each CCRT-eligible country on its policy responses to the pandemic and on staff’s assessments of these policies, the use of resources freed up by debt service relief, and the implementation of governance safeguards commitments. The paper also provides an update on the financial situation of the CCRT. The generous support from 17 donor countries and the EU has mobilized SDR 609 million in new pledges since the onset of the pandemic.