This is the amount approved by cabinet on April 6, towards payment of wool and mohair farmers who did not receive any payment during that period.
The Minister of Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing, Thesele ’Maseribana revealed on Wednesday, saying Mr Shi could face serious consequences if he fails to pay.
This, after the businessman failed on several occasions since the 2018/19 fiscal year to pay wool and mohair farmers who were at the time forced by government to take their fibre to Shi’s company, the Thaba-Bosiu Wool Centre, thereby creating a monopoly in the local industry.
Farmers were forced to hand over their fibre to the centre, following regulations which were imposed by the government, prohibiting them from trading outside the country.
However, the regulations were later amended in 2019 allowing the farmers to once again trade from anywhere they want. This was after a huge outcry from players in the industry who accused Mr Shi of lack of honesty and poor financial returns from their fibre, among other things.
Since 2018/19, Mr Shi has been struggling to pay farmers until recently when the government decided to intervene and pay farmers on his behalf. To date, scores of wool and mohair farmers are yet to receive payments from the centre, having delivered their fibre back in 2018.
But on Wednesday, Mr ’Maseribane announced that the payments of the farmers will begin sooner than later. Exact dates will be announced later this week. While some payments were supposed to be effected on April 7 this year, the minister said there were some unforeseen challenges that the ministry still had to deal with.
However, he added, that the processes that had to be undertaken in order for the payments to begin have been completed. One of those processes included that Mr Shi signs and agrees that he will pay back all the money the government has allocated towards paying the farmers.