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LRA urges public to expose graft

by Lesotho Times
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MASERU — The head of internal affairs at the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA), Moneuoa Kopo, on Friday said the public must report all cases of corruption to the relevant authorities to help stop leakages in tax collection.
Kopo was addressing guests at a forum organised by the LRA for tax agents in Maseru, accounting professionals and businessmen operating in Lesotho.
The forum sought to look for ways of facilitating co-operation between the LRA and tax agents in a bid to improve tax collection and information dissemination.
“We are appealing to the public to report cases of fraud, or misconduct by our members of staff. We have a zero tolerance policy against corruption,” Kopo said.
He said eradicating corruption will enhance the authority’s efforts to boost the collection of revenue.
The LRA commissioner of customs, Thabo Moleko, said the slow economic activity in Lesotho was having a negative impact on the amount of revenue collected by the authority.
“We are faced with declining Sacu (Southern African Customs Union) revenues and we have to find means of supplementing for that decline through efficient tax collection and fighting corruption,” Moleko said.
Tax agents who spoke at the forum said they faced huge problems at the country’s entry points as they had to wait for long periods to get refunds.
They also complained of poor service delivery as well as the failure by LRA officers to keep and maintain proper records.
They said these problems caused most tax-payers to fail to comply with their tax obligations.
Moleko said the LRA was working hard to resolve these challenges.
“We have since reduced the signatories from seven to four for refunds to reduce the time (people have to wait).
“We have also introduced an electronic money transfer facility to reduce long queues to ease compliance,” Moleko said.
The chief executive officer of the Lesotho Institute of Accountants, Puleng Lebitsa, urged businesses to use registered accountants for tax filing purposes.
“Registered practitioners are regulated so they have to adhere to certain standards . . . which makes it easier for tax compliance when filling in returns to the LRA,” Lebitsa said.
Molupe Mothepu, a manager in the business process management unit of the LRA, said the authority was in the process of introducing an electronic system to decentralise the tax collection process.
Individuals will be able to fill in their tax returns online, he said.
“The use of technology will encourage voluntary compliance and make it easier to apply risk management. This will be of benefit to the client,” Mothepu said.
Some businessmen complained that some goods were being smuggled into the country without paying tax.
“There are some goods that are not taxed and enter the country illegally. This makes it hard for us as businesses to compete since we pay taxes. The LRA must prevent this,” said `Malitlou Morojele from the Lesotho Chamber of Commerce.
Tefo Mapesela said the lack of up-to-date records makes it difficult for individuals to comply with their obligations.
“Poor record keeping is causing problems for taxpayers and it makes some people not to comply with the tax requirements,” he said.

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