MASERU – Despite the ongoing economic and political instability in Lesotho, the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) is on course to meeting the set revenue target of M7.5 billion for the current financial year.
This was revealed by the LRA’s commissioner general Thabo Khasipe on Wednesday this week during the opening of the annual LRA tax expo that was staged in Maseru.
On its second edition, the tax expo is an initiative that seeks to ignite a conversation on tax issues as a contribution towards a formulation of fiscal policy by the Government of Lesotho through the Ministry of Finance.
The revenue side of the fiscal policy is seen as a key element hence the need for all stakeholders and the community at large to get together and have a conversation in order to ultimately make an input into the budget formulation process by the government.
“This year, as we speak, we are almost halfway through the year and we are on point in terms of the target. It is a much higher target; we exceeded the target last year and this year we are going even higher. I think it was an 11 percent increase from the M6.9 billion target that we were given last year,” Khasipe said while delivering his opening remarks during this year edition of the tax expo.
Last year LRA surprised many by exceeding the set target of M6.8 million, collecting M6.9 billion in a process. This, after the authority missed the target for the financial years 2016/17 and 2017/18, consecutively.
The 2018/19 financial year, however, was different as LRA exceeded the target. The commissioner believes even this year the M7.5 billion target is within reach.
“The economy is not doing well but I am glad to say, because of the LRA team that is so working hard despite the challenges that we have, we are almost on point; we are M10 million just below the year to date target. So, hopefully, as the year progresses, we will continue to maintain that momentum and meet the M7.5 billion target,” the commissioner added.
Under their new strategy, the LRA is focusing a lot on improving the quality of services under the belief that with good service provision, revenue will indeed also flow. The revenue authority is now on the execution and implementation phase of the new strategy.
Minister of Finance Dr Moeketsi Majoro revealed in his remarks that the expo comes at the right moment when government is finalising its budget allocations and policy proposals for the 2020/21 financial year.
He said it has always been the government’s desire to gather as much input as possible from various stakeholders in all its initiatives that includes the budgeting process.
“Today we seek your opinions because, ultimately, what government can spend is what you contribute as taxes and it is therefore important that you share with us your views. The expo fits very well with the LRA strategy that seeks to promote collaboration at the centre of everything that the authority does,” Majoro noted during the same event.
He also touched on the weak economic conditions in Lesotho, noting it poses a big challenge for the country to collect more taxes.
“When your economy is weak and people are out of jobs, you need to bring them into the economy. For that you need an infinite capacity of collecting taxes and an economy that is generating taxes. If your economy is weak, you collect less and you cannot fund government programmes.
“Also, when a country is undergoing political instability, nothing is sacrosanct but compliance with tax policies and principles, including confidentiality, is critical towards successful collection of taxes,” he emphasised.
Besides revenue collection, Majoro said the LRA also advises the Ministry of Finance on tax policy issues, commending the authority for ensuring that as they discharge their mandate, they thought of consulting the tax-paying community and all other stakeholders to provide their inputs.