Govt urged to support farmers in marketing produce


. . . as RSL launches Mphahlolle


MASERU – The Revenues Services Lesotho (RSL) last week organized a one-day symposium called Mphahlolle at the Manthabiseng Convention Centre. The symposium was meant to raise awareness and provide guidance to the private sectors and business people regarding tax and customs international instruments, as well as how the parties can access and benefit from them.

Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Dr. Retšelisitsoe Matlanyane, explained that there was need for Basotho to utilise their natural resources such as land and water to their full potential.  She highlighted the importance of creating a market for agricultural goods to support national economic growth.  Matlanyane urged the private sector to collaborate with Mphahlolle and other organisations to provide farmers and business people with the necessary knowledge and opportunities for trade.

“We have embarked on a journey to make sure that Lesotho grows economically through agriculture but are private sector players preparing markets for such goods?,” she said. Matlanyane added that there should be an already available market for such goods since they are perishable. Basotho farmers are trying all they can to grow as many crops as possible only for them to stand on side roads selling their products and making losses because there is no proper market for their products lamented Matlanyane.

She further urged the private sector to guarantee a sufficient market for farmers to deliver their produce to supermarkets.  The government has a duty to support farmers by establishing laboratories to test the quality of food for human consumption, she said. “Mphahlolle should not be an RSL only initiative”, she added, advising them to partner with other sectors because together they can reach more farmers and business people and give them the kind of knowledge needed to trade.

“What we are intending to do is revolutionize trade and the economy in our country and Africa as a whole. There are a number of agreements that the government is a signatory to in the Southern African customs union which is a market on its own; we are also in a SADC free trade agreement,” she said, reminding the audience she is proud of the fact that there are places in Lesotho that produce denims that are sold internationally.

Setsoto Ranthocha of RSL, in his presentation, noted that the campaign aims to create awareness on RSL e-services, products and changes or new developments taking place within the RSL.  He stated that so far Lesotho has about eight agreements in trade though the last three have not yet been implemented and are in the pipeline, still going through ratification.

South Africa, United Kingdom, Botswana, Republic of Mauritius and the Kingdom of Eswatini, to mention a few are some of the countries Lesotho has such agreements with. Digital innovations have brought about significant changes in the field of taxation, improving efficiency, transparency, and the ability of tax authorities to enforce compliance. However, they also pose new challenges that require continuous adaptation and regulation.

He further noted that technology has influenced tax processes and compliance.  “We have the issue of taxation in the digital economy, and it is very big. Traditionally, we would wait for someone to open a shop at a specific location then we could go and demand tax, but these days everything is done digitally so these are some of the aspects which are being innovated into the tax treaties that we have and we need to adapt to,” he said. He further stated that they lose an estimated M250 million annually due to digital transformation, adding that it would take RSL decades to try and collect all that money.

He concluded by stating that while digital innovations have brought about numerous benefits, they have also raised concerns related to data security, privacy, and the need for constant updates to tax regulations to keep pace with technological advancements.  “As technology continues to evolve, the impact on tax systems is likely to grow, requiring ongoing adaptation and collaboration between tax authorities, businesses, and technology providers,” said Ranthocha.

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