Kingdom of Lesotho: Staff Report for the 2007 Article IV Consultation—Informational Annex

Lesotho has made progress toward macroeconomic stability. After recent economic development, diamond production, garment industry, and good performance in the agriculture and service sectors were recovered. The fiscal position and public debt sustainability indicators have improved. Achievement of these objectives will call for an acceleration of the pace of structural reforms with a focus on promoting private sector development, while ensuring strong medium-term fiscal and external positions. The envisaged programs would be key to relieving constraints on growth and enhancing productivity.


Lesotho has made progress toward macroeconomic stability. After recent economic development, diamond production, garment industry, and good performance in the agriculture and service sectors were recovered. The fiscal position and public debt sustainability indicators have improved. Achievement of these objectives will call for an acceleration of the pace of structural reforms with a focus on promoting private sector development, while ensuring strong medium-term fiscal and external positions. The envisaged programs would be key to relieving constraints on growth and enhancing productivity.

I. Lesotho: Relations with the Fund

I. Membership Status: Joined 07/25/1968; accepted the obligations of Article VIII, Sections 2, 3 and 4: 03/05/1997

II. General Resources Account:

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III. SDR Department:

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IV. Outstanding Purchases and Loans:

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V. Financial Arrangements:

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VI. Projected Obligations to Fund (SDR million; based on existing use of resources and present holdings of SDRs):

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VII. Exchange Arrangement:

Lesotho’s currency, the loti (plural maloti), is pegged to the South African rand at par. The Central Bank of Lesotho (CBL) deals with commercial banks mainly in South African rand. As of August 6, 2007, the rand (maloti) rate per U.S. dollar was M 7.06.

VIII Article IV Consultation:

The Executive Board concluded the last Article IV consultation on October 6, 2006 (EBM/06/85-1; 10/06/2006). Executive Directors commended the authorities for their continued efforts to maintain macroeconomic stability under difficult circumstances. They welcomed the continued improvement in the fiscal balance and the external current account position, as well as the prudent use of the SACU revenue windfall. Directors considered that finding the basis for consistent high growth over the medium term to help address poverty, achieve the Millennium Development Goals, and confront the high incidence of HIV/AIDS, will be the primary challenge for the authorities in the period ahead. Directors observed that the further loss of trade preferences and declining revenues from the South African Customs Union (SACU) were significant downside risks over the medium term. In that light, Directors considered that the key policy challenges were to implement structural reforms aimed at stimulating broad-based growth and to strengthen the medium term fiscal position.

IX. Technical Assistance Missions:

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XI. Resident Representatives:

The Senior Resident Representative posted in South Africa has been covering Lesotho since January 2004. In January 2006, a Deputy Resident Representative was appointed to cover regional issues

II. Lesotho: Relations with the World Bank

A. Partnership in Lesotho’s Development Strategy

1. The government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS), was finalized in 2005 following an extensive nationwide participatory consultation process. The PRS builds on a number of government documents and initiatives, including the I-PRSP, National Vision 2020, National Goals, and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The PRS has three interconnected goals: (i) create jobs through the establishment of an environment that facilitates private sector-led economic growth; (ii) empower the poor and the vulnerable and improve their access to health care and education; and (iii) deepen democracy and improve public sector performance to ensure that policies and legal frameworks facilitate the full implementation of priorities.

2. Several limitations and risks in the implementation of the PRS related to its translation into actual work plans, possible further shocks to the economy, weak governance, and a lack of political will were identified during the preparation of the Joint Staff Assessment Note. It was suggested that the development of a comprehensive medium-term macroeconomic framework, taking into account Lesotho’s external vulnerability and competitiveness, and improving the monitoring and evaluation framework would facilitate PRS implementation. The Government is currently reviewing progress made in the implementation of the PRS, and plans to update the PRS based on further analysis from newly available poverty and census data, in consultations with key stakeholders.

3. Lesotho’s key Development Partners are working together to develop a common framework of support around the PRS. They are currently engaged with the Government in strengthening national systems and improving public sector institutions to pave the way for providing joint budget support.

B. Bank-Fund Collaboration in Specific Areas

4. The World Bank and the IMF continue to cooperate closely in assisting the Government of Lesotho to implement its poverty reduction and development strategy, with each institution taking the lead in the policy dialogue in its areas of expertise. The IMF leads on macroeconomic policy (fiscal, monetary and exchange rate policies) and on the following areas of structural reforms: fiscal management and tax administration reform. The Bank will continue to lead the policy dialogue on sectoral reforms, including public expenditure management, employment generation through private sector development, decentralization, infrastructure development, education, health, combating HIV/AIDS, and poverty assessment, monitoring and evaluation. Areas of close collaboration include the PRS, debt sustainability analysis, public sector reform, financial sector reform and trade. The Bank and Fund staff routinely exchange views on these and other issues.

The Bank Group’s Country Assistance Strategy

5. The Bank Group’s assistance strategy (CAS) for Lesotho for FY 06-09 was approved in April 2006 and is guided by the government’s PRS and the MDGs. The CAS proposes four key strategic objectives which will frame the Bank Group’s assistance over the coming years: (i) fighting HIV/AIDS; (ii) employment and income generation through higher economic growth; (iii) improving human development outcomes; and (iv) decentralization, public service delivery, and monitoring and evaluation. To achieve enhanced impact, the CAS proposes a results framework that sets out desired outcomes and defines key intermediate indicators. In terms of instruments, the Bank will continue to invest in high quality analytic work to underpin a strategic IDA lending program. The proposed program draws on the lessons of the last CAS and is designed to mitigate risks that could hinder the effectiveness of Bank support.

Poverty Assessment, Monitoring and Evaluation

6. A Poverty, Gender and Social Assessment has being initiated with the objective of providing an analysis of the key opportunities, constraints, and risks to sustainable poverty reduction from the perspective of households, communities, the government and institutions by analyzing the past and present and drawing lessons for the future. The assessment will provide policy and program recommendations on how to achieve more inclusive and accountable institutions and sustainable poverty reduction. A review of the Concept Note has been undertaken and the draft shared with the Government and other Development Partners. The assessment will draw on the data recently released on the Household Income and Expenditure Survey and the preliminary Census data among other sources. The Report is welcomed by all parties as current poverty analytics are weak and outdated. The findings from the report will feed into the annual PRS progress report and the proposed Poverty Reduction Support Credit.

7. The Bank is also supporting government efforts at establishing a National Monitoring and Evaluation system.

Public Sector Reform and Public Expenditure Management

8. The government of Lesotho recognizes that strengthening public expenditure management is critical to improving service delivery and make progress towards attaining its development goals. In an effort to enhance the effectiveness of public services, the government has launched an ambitious public sector improvement reform program (PSIRP) to be implemented over the next 3–5 years. The program is being supported by Lesotho’s key development partners and its successful implementation is expected to provide a sound basis for future budget support to Lesotho’s PRS.

9. The Bank has finalized the Public Expenditure Management and Financial Accountability Review (PEMFAR), in close collaboration with the Government. The PEMFAR aims to strengthen the analytical base for making decisions about the size and composition of public expenditure to have maximum impact on growth and poverty reduction. The PEMFAR also includes an assessment using the approach developed under the multi-donor Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA) program. The PEFA assessment confirms that progress has been made in the planning and formulation aspects of budgeting, but also confirms persistent problems relating to long-standing weakness in internal control, accounting delays, audit backlogs and poor fiscal reporting.

Decentralization and Empowerment of Local Communities

10. The Bank has finalized a report entitled, Decentralization and Demand Driven Service Delivery in support of the ongoing decentralization process in Lesotho. It supports Lesotho’s PRS and CAS Strategic Objective of “improving governance through decentralization and empowerment of local communities.” The report has been prepared jointly with the GOL and GTZ. The objectives were (1) to strengthen local governance and the ability of communities and individuals to access services and hold service providers accountable; (2) to strengthen the ability of service providers to effectively respond to the demand and scale up their service and infrastructure provision; and (3) to assist the local governments and other local actors to strengthen the management of natural resources and improve agricultural and livestock productivity. Five components of the sector work were identified: (i) Review the Status of Decentralization; (ii) Service Delivery, Community Empowerment, and the Dynamics of Local Institutions through a Community Profiling Study; (iii) Legal Harmonization; (iv) Fiscal decentralization, including a specific study on Fiscal Grants and Revenue Raising Capacity of Local Governments; and (v) The identification of promising agriculture and natural resource management practices. The report briefly reviews the changing international context for local governance. It then describes the Lesotho Local Government system. Each of the five components is the subject of an individual chapter. A concluding chapter includes a policy matrix bringing the recommendations of the report together.

Private Sector Development (PSD)

11. To support the government’s efforts on the PSD front, the World Bank has prepared a Private Sector Competitiveness project. The key objective of the project is to increase private sector participation in the economy by increasing its productivity and competitiveness. The project consists of three components aimed at: (i) improving the business environment through reducing cost of doing business and strengthening legal framework; (ii) supporting economic diversification through development of skills, institutions and market linkages; and (iii) improving MSMEs’ access to finance. The Project was presented to the Bank’s Board in March 2007.


12. Bank support to the infrastructure sector is directed to institutional strengthening as well as physical works. The Bank contributed to the financing of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. In addition to its ongoing portfolio in the water and utilities sectors, the Bank has prepared an Integrated Transport Project (ITP) in collaboration with other development partners. In that context, the Bank will take a leadership role in supporting ongoing road sector reforms, capacity building and commitments for developing the road network and addressing isolation problems. In addition, the ITP will support the formulation of policies and strategies for air, rail, and intermediate means of transport (IMT) and water transport subsectors with a view towards more integrated and coordinated transport sector management.

13. The World Bank has been providing support to the GoL in defining the context for long-term support to the water sector by supporting essential institutional reforms and immediate infrastructure investments under Phase 1 of the Water Sector Improvement Project (WSIP) APL. The APL includes provision for supporting the GoL in developing the identified long-term solution for bulk water supply, indicating the availability of US$25 million under Phase 2 of the WSIP APL. A regional water supply master plan study of the Lowlands and a full feasibility study have identified the next least-cost, long-term solution for bulk supply to Maseru to be the Metolong Dam on the South Phuthiatsana River some 35 kms from Maseru. A detailed Environmental and Social Impact Assessment has shown no unmanageable impacts. Once constructed, the Metolong Dam, along with the associated treatment plant and infrastructure, will increase the water supply capacity of Maseru and surrounding towns by 80ML/day. This will ensure a secure supply of 125 ML/day that will enable Maseru to meet domestic and industrial requirements up to the year 2020 or beyond through conjunctive use.

14. The Government has approached the Bank to cover an estimated financing gap of US$25.2 million for the construction of the Metolong Dam (total cost US$190 million) to provide water for both domestic and industrial purposes. The Government has secured US$83 million from the MCC, US$39 million from the Arab Fund and US$32.8 million from own sources. In response to the Government’s request, the Bank is preparing an IDA project for $5-10 million. The Bank is looking at other possible ways to fill the remaining financing gap, including the Africa Catalytic Growth Fund and the possibility of lending on IBRD terms for this particular project only (while Lesotho will remain an IDA country). Apart from the World Bank, the Government is looking for other sources to fund the gap.


15. In response to the high adult HIV prevalence rate in Lesotho (approx 24%), the Government adopted the multi-sectoral National HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan and the National AIDS Policy Framework in 2000. Political commitment in the fight against HIV/AIDS has increased and legislation to create a National AIDS Commission has been enacted. Several other development partners and agencies are active in supporting the HIV/AIDS program, including Development Corporation Ireland, the Clinton Foundation, and Bristol Myers Squibb.

16. To support the Government’s efforts in fighting HIV/AIDS and in effectively using the resources made available by other donors, including the Global Fund, the Bank has been providing a technical assistance grant to increase the capacity of government and nongovernmental institutions responsible for the national response to HIV/AIDS. However, while the Government has made some progress and Church leaders have committed to support the program, the National Aids Commission (NAC) is not empowered enough to coordinate the fight against the pandemic leading to a fragmented effort. The “Know your Status” campaign appears not to be delivering the expected results, and HIV prevention and impact mitigation seem to be greatly underfunded. The Government relies on nearly 90% of donor funding in its HIV response, but only half of those allocations are in fact spent. Although the Government has declared HIV as a national emergency, the commitment, leadership and oversight responsibility for monitoring is weak. The World Bank will start preparing a new HIV/AIDS project this year for FY09 delivery (US$10.0 million).

Human Development


17. The Bank is supporting a Health Sector Reform Program with the objective of achieving a sustainable increase in access to quality preventive, curative and rehabilitative health care services. The Bank’s support to the health sector is structured in three Phases of an Adaptable Program Loan (APL). Currently in Phase II, the focus is on improving access to quality health services through strengthening decentralized service delivery and improving human resources management in the sector.

18. Replacing the obsolete and collapsing Queen Elizabeth II national referral hospital is one of the major activities under the country’s health sector reform. As the country also faces primary and secondary health care challenges at lower levels and to ensure a wise and effective use of the limited health resources, the Government decided to build and manage a new national referral hospital using a PPP arrangement in order to take advantage of resources and skills from the private sector. With the facilitation of the IDA health task team, IFC was engaged by the Government to provide technical and advisory services on the PPP over the past 18 months.

19. Using a PPP arrangement to replace the obsolete and collapsing national referral hospital is a major undertaking in the health sector. The Government has requested that IDA fund a Partial Risk Guarantee that would support a planned PPP for a new national referral hospital in Maseru. This would be the first PPP in Lesotho. IDA and IFC are working closely on this PPP and feel that it constitutes a vital input into improving health care in Lesotho. The Guarantee will amount to approximately US$10 million of which only 25% would need to be underwritten, meaning that Lesotho would need to borrow only US$2.5 million.


20. The education sector is supported through an APL which began in 1999 and extends to 2011. Its broad objective is to assist the Government of Lesotho in its efforts to increase access to quality education and the efficiency of the education system. In that context, it aims to: (a) increase enrollment in and completion of primary education; (b) improve learning achievement in primary education; (c) increase enrollment in secondary education; (d) build capacity in the education sector, including for early childhood care and development, technical and vocational education and training, higher education, Non-Formal Education, and Ministry of Education and Training core functions. The second phase is expected to close in December 2007.

21. In conjunction with the development partners, the MoET is planning a series of analytic studies which will provide the underpinnings for the development of a sector program in the education sector. This process has been assisted by 2 joint review meetings (held in March and November 2006) and a National Dialogue on education (November 2006). These studies will include an overall sector analysis, a study of monitoring and evaluation systems in the MoET, a study of the management structures within the MoET, and a study of the cost and financing of the education sector. The development of the sector program is intended to improve efficiency of external support and to assist in attracting further funds.

C. Bank Group Assistance Summary

22. The World Bank’s first operation in Lesotho was approved in February, 1966. As of July 31, 2007, the Bank Group has disbursed US$396.3 million. IDA has approved 35 credits amounting to US$ 389.3 million, of which US$ 301.2 was disbursed; US$ 60.6 million was canceled; and US$ 38.6 million remains undisbursed. To date, the World Bank has financed six projects in education; five in roads and road rehabilitation and maintenance; four in agriculture; three in industry; three in water supply (including support to the Lesotho Highlands Water Project); three in urban development; five in health, two in privatization; and one in community development.

23. The World Bank has seven ongoing IDA projects, as well as a Global Environment Facility (GEF) project. Active projects include the Health Sector Reform Project, the HIV/AIDS Capacity Building and Technical Assistance Project; Phase 2 of the Education Sector Development Project, Utilities Reform Project, Water Sector Improvement Project, Integrated Transport Project and Private Sector Competitiveness and Economic Diversification Project.. In addition, the World Bank will be working with other donors over the next several years to assess the possibility of and to prepare Government systems for budget support for Lesotho’s Poverty Reduction Strategy.

24. Currently, the IFC has no outstanding investments in Lesotho. However, IFC is advising the Government of Lesotho on the structure and implementation of a public-private partnership for the replacement of the Queen Elizabeth II hospital. The project has been undertaken in cooperation with the World Bank’s ongoing health sector reform project. This is a pioneering joint initiative by IDA and IFC in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Contact Persons

Questions may be addressed to Ms. Ritva Reinikka, Country Director, at 27-12-431 3100; or Ms. Preeti Arora, Sr. Country Economist, at 27-12-431 3129.

III. Lesotho: Statistical Issues

The statistical database is adequate for surveillance, although there are some deficiencies in core surveillance data.

As one of twenty two countries participating in the Fund’s General Data Dissemination System (GDDS) Project for Anglophone African Countries, Lesotho has undertaken the GDDS as framework for the development of its national statistical system. The Anglophone Africa project (funded by the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID)) aims to assist participating countries to implement plans for improvement identified in the metadata to meet GDDS recommended statistical practices. GDDS metadata have been posted on the Fund’s Dissemination Standards Bulletin Board since August 2003. Since the original posting, the metadata have not been updated by the authorities, except for the metadata on the fiscal sector, which were updated in November 2004.

National accounts

GDP data may need to be revised on account of gaps in source data on manufacturing activity and the accounting of the transfers received under the SACU agreement. First, there are concerns that data on manufacturing activity from the Bureau of Statistics of Lesotho (BSL) are underestimated, when compared to customs data on manufactured exports. Second, staff’s understanding is that taxes on products included in the calculation of GDP on the production side include the “duty element” (lagged by two years) of the transfer received by Lesotho under the Common Revenue Pool transfer formula underpinning the SACU agreement. Further analysis is needed to assess the methodology employed for calculating this duty element.

BSL is responsible for the national accounts and compiles annual current price estimates of GDP, expenditure, and income. Annual estimates of GDP at constant (1995) prices are compiled by economic activity and expenditure; a rebasing of national income at constant prices (2004) is expected to be finalized by end-2007. Annual estimates are published on their web site for 1993 to 2005. Other macroeconomic indicators, such as industrial production indices, are used to monitor developments during the year.

Since late 2003, a peripatetic national accounts expert has been assigned to Lesotho under the DFID project for Anglophone Africa. The principal reason for limited progress has been the lack of resources and issues with the quality of source data. In particular, the December 2003 mission noted that, except in the case of agriculture statistics, there was no regular annual survey program for economic statistics. Particular note was made of the need for, and the resources to be devoted to, an up-to-date business register. The absence of easily tapped administrative data compounded the problem arising from the lack of survey data. A Household Budget Survey was conducted in 2002/3 though the results are not available/used for compiling economic statistics. A November 2004 mission reiterated the lack of timely and relevant source data to be the major obstacle in implementing the System of National Accounts 1993. A September 2005 mission reported continuing severe staffing problems in national accounts and problems with source data. The mission also noted the need to re-benchmark and rebase GDP estimates, but emphasized that shortcomings in source data may preclude this from being done effectively.


Since January 2001, BSL produces a monthly consumer price index (CPI) that covers Maseru, the capital city, and six urban towns. With effect from December 2006 the coverage is to be increased by three additional urban towns. While the index has a reference period of April 1997 = 100, the weights are still based on the 1994/95 Household Budget Survey (HBS). In addition, a separate CPI is compiled and published for Maseru City. A HBS was conducted for 2002/3 though the results have yet to be used to derive new weights.

Government finance statistics

Data on government revenue and grants, current and capital expenditure, and financing are provided by the Ministry of Finance to AFR periodically, although timeliness of reports remains problematic. There is scope for further improvement in the reporting of these data. Current and capital expenditure would benefit from more disaggregated reporting, including for health and education; revenues should be classified according to the Government Finance Statistics Manual 2001 (GFSM 2001); and the reporting lag of about one year for the production of the functional breakdown of expenditure is problematic. Government finance statistics should distinguish clearly between current and capital (project) grants and external loan disbursements.

A GDDS fiscal sector mission in December 2003 was followed by a technical assistance mission in 2004, which assisted the authorities in implementing the reporting framework of GFSM 2001. The mission identified several shortcomings in the data. Underreporting of recurrent revenue and expenditure occurs as ministries net revenue against unreported expenditure. Reporting of acquisition of nonfinancial assets is incomplete as ministries do not fully report donor project outlays. These data are also insufficiently detailed to allow appropriate economic classifications. The mission assisted the authorities in compiling a bridge table to reclassify data according to GFSM 2001. The mission also established that the data coverage did not include the activities of the National University of Lesotho, the Road Rehabilitation and Maintenance Fund and the Petroleum Fund. The mission recommended that the university be treated as an extra-budgetary fund and that the other funds be adequately sectorized and classified to further enhance the coverage of the general government.

Another GFS mission visited Maseru in March 2006, and found that progress with the implementation of the previous missions’ recommendations had been impeded by lack of resources and high turnover of staff. More specifically, no progress has been observed in implementing the recommendation to expand the coverage of fiscal statistics to include extrabudgetary units of government, or in aligning the classification of transactions in the source accounting systems with GFSM 2001 classifications. A revision of the chart of accounts was envisaged with the introduction of the Integrated Financial Management Information System.

Annual cash data for fiscal year 2005/06 have been submitted for publication in the Government Finance Statistics Yearbook 2007. Some recommendations for improving the coverage and classification of revenue and expenses were implemented. Follow up technical assistance in 2007 will work towards further improvements in both the annual and high frequency data. Currently, no high frequency data are reported for publication in the International Finance Statistics.

Monetary statistics

Most TA recommendations have been adopted. Monthly reporting of data for IFS publication is timely and has improved in terms of classification of instruments, sectorization of the domestic economy, and compilation of the monetary aggregates. Lesotho started compiling monetary statistics based on the Standardized Report Forms (SRFs), which provide improved classification and sectorization of the accounts, and reported these data to STA beginning in December 2004. Monthly data following this new presentation are disseminated in the International Finance Statistics Supplement.

Despite the progress achieved, the missions’ recommendations to expand the institutional coverage of the other depository corporations sector and to value all financial instruments at market value are yet to be implemented. The monetary and financial statistics mission that visited Maseru in September 2007 found out that work had started on the inventory of all financial corporations (deposit-taking and others), and that it was expected that credit cooperatives would be fully covered in the other depository corporations survey by October 2008. The compilation of the other financial corporations survey is targeted for February 2009.

Balance of payments and external debt

The Central Bank of Lesotho (CBL) compiles quarterly balance of payments statistics, usually with a lag of three months. However, some timeliness issues remain in forwarding these data to the Fund.

A STA mission in July-August 2002 found that the methodology underlying the compilation of the balance of payments data suffers from the use of outdated benchmark surveys and deterioration in the coverage and timeliness of some of data sources. The main recommendations of the mission were as follows:

  • It is urgent to resolve both the inadequate coverage and the delayed reporting of data on exports and imports of goods. The Department of Customs and Excise (DCE) does not provide data in a timely fashion. The CBL, therefore, generates its own estimates and there are significant differences between these estimates and DCE’s data. For example, CBL believes that DCE is underreporting total imports and has been adjusting the level of imports upward by 30 percent. There are also differences between the trade data compiled by the CBL and the BSL.

  • Closer cooperation and new statistical surveys are needed to improve the quality of data on exports and imports of services. Most of the data on exports of services are based on outdated benchmark estimates adjusted for movements in the consumer price index. Data available at the ministries and other organizations could also be of better use for estimates of balance of payments variables. Government ministries and the CBL should cooperate more and make better use of data sources in organizations like the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority, the Lesotho National Development Corporation, the South African Reserve Bank, and the Employment Bureau of South Africa.

In general, the authorities need to strengthen their institutional capacity. The CBL should be given formal institutional responsibility for the compilation of balance of payments statistics. This work is currently undertaken by the CBL but there is no legislation or official decree that designates this responsibility. Together with other members of the Common Monetary Area, Lesotho’s authorities also need to consider measures to harmonize concepts, methodology, and data collection for regional balance of payments data.

Under the GDDS project for Anglophone Africa, Lesotho has participated in a series of regional workshops to plan and implement surveys for the recording of private capital flows and stocks. An exploratory balance of payments survey was conducted by the CBL in 2006.

Lesotho: Table of Common Indicators Required for Surveillance

(As of October 15, 2007)

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Includes reserve assets pledged or otherwise encumbered as well as net derivative positions.

Both market-based and officially-determined, including discount rates, money market rates, rates on treasury bills, notes and bonds.

Foreign, domestic bank, and domestic nonbank financing.

The general government consists of the central government (budgetary funds, extra budgetary funds, and social security funds) and state and local governments.

Including currency and maturity composition.

Daily (D), weekly (W), monthly (M), quarterly (Q), annually (A), irregular (I); and not available.

Kingdom of Lesotho: 2007 Article IV Consultation: Staff Report; Staff Supplement; Public Information Notice on the Executive Board Discussion; and Statement by the Executive Director for the Kingdom of Lesotho
Author: International Monetary Fund