MASERU — The key to Lesotho’s economic growth is a viable partnership between the private and public sectors, Finance Minister Timothy Thahane said on Thursday.
Thahane was speaking at the official launch of the Lesotho Revenue Authority — Business Partnership Forum in Maseru.
The forum is meant to promote economic growth through private and public sector collaboration.
“The public sector alone cannot create jobs as its income comes from tax and for us to steer growth and create more jobs, we are forced to squeeze more tax from businesses,” Thahane said.
The forum is intended to establish a platform for dialogue and collaboration between the LRA, the business sector and other relevant stakeholders such as government ministries and departments.
Thahane said Lesotho, being a landlocked country, was at a disadvantage because Basotho can only import goods at higher costs.
“If we are to reverse this we need to collaborate as business people hence the establishment of such a forum,” he said.
He cited the cases of other small and landlocked countries such as Japan and Singapore that he said had worked hard to be among developed countries in the world today.
LRA Commissioner General, Thabo Letjama, said the forum will mark the beginning of collaboration between the private and public sectors.
“With this we hope the LRA will have a better understanding of what is needed by business people,” Letjama said.
He said the forum would also enable business to know what LRA expects of them.
A private sector representative, ’Marethabile Sekhiba, said they hoped the forum will address problems encountered by business people in the country.
“Currently the business community is experiencing challenges when exporting and importing goods at the border because of the long queues that delay services,” Sekhiba said.
She said women who are exporting Seshoeshoe dresses were being forced to pay high taxes as their goods were being unfairly valued at the border.
“We hope the forum will give the business community a platform to come up with solutions on how to deal with such challenges.
“We also hope it will enable us to share ideas on how to promote and improve our businesses,” Sekhiba said.
She however said some business people were not willing to pay taxes because they did not understand that such incomes were beneficial to them in the long run.
“Some of us are not aware that taxes are used by the government to construct and maintain our roads as well as provide social services such as health,” Sekhiba said.