College owes M18m to LRA

College owes M18m to LRA

MASERU – THE Lesotho College of Education (LCE) owes M18 million in taxes accumulated over a decade, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was told on Monday. Education Ministry’s Principal Secretary Dr Thabiso Lebese told the PAC that the college is experiencing cash flow problems and has been struggling to pay staff for some time. Lebese told the committee that the college has failed to remit taxes to the Lesotho Revenue Authority

LRA) for the past 10 years. And this seems to be just a tip of the iceberg. In February the committee was told that the college’s books have not been audited since 2003. Rector Dr Karabo Mokobocho-Mohlakoana is working under immense pressure to produce audited accounts for the past 15 years and answer burning questions from the committee. On Monday the PAC came down hard on Mokobocho-Mohlakoana when she appeared before the committee without the audited accounts. Amid intense grilling Mokobocho-Mohlakoana pleaded with the committee to give her until June to produce the audited accounts.

Mokobocho-Mohlakoana she said she was not prepared to hand in the financial statements because the accountants had not finished compiling them. “May the committee give me until June and I believe by that time they would have finished compiling them,” she said. Mokobocho-Mohlakoana conceded that the college has had managerial problems for years. She said she had inherited the mess when she became Rector in 2016. The PAC chief whip, Khubetsoana MP Likopo Mahase, said it was wrong that the college did not prepare financials for the audit. Mokobocho-Mohlakoana said she was trying her best to produce the reports but it is not easy because things were already bad when she became rector in 2006.

“I’m still working on this report and like I said it is not as simple as it looks,” she said, adding that she had to start everything afresh because many documents were not available. The books do not reconcile because there is too much information missing, she said. “I think I need more time to deal with this problem. I will bring you everything you need.” Mokobocho-Mohlakoana also told the PAC that she wrote the Auditor General asking her to give her more time to reconcile her reports before she could start her audit.

Mahase fumed, saying it was wrong that Mokobocho-Mohlakoana had asked for more time from the Auditor General, which she was given, and now she was asking for more from the PAC. “So you had been given the extended time by the Auditor General, today you also want the committee to give you more time. Is this the way you do your work?” Mahase asked. Mahase was unhappy that Mokobocho-Mohlakoana had not informed the ministry’s principal secretary when she asked the Auditor General for more time to prepare the statements. “You have to report everything to the principal secretary,” Mahase told Mokobocho-Mohlakoana.

“We have seen that the LCE is not doing everything properly. We want you to go and do what is expected of you. We want those reports.” Lebese promised the PAC that he would assist Mokobocho-Mohlakoana so that she corrects the mistakes. “I will work hand in glove with the school rector and I promise that everything will be well. This school needs good management so that it can do well,” he said. The LCE’s bursar Lisebo Ramaili said when she joined the college in 2009 she worked hard to prepare the books from 2003. “There were no documents and I did my utmost to ensure that at last there were audited accounts by 2009,” Ramaili said.

As for the period from 2009 to 2017, Ramaili said she was still preparing for the audit. The PAC grilled the Education Ministry for continuing to give the college money despite the fact that it did not have audited accounts. The college gets about M31 million from the government annually. Mokobocho-Mohlakoana said she inherited this financial mess when she joined the college in 2016.

Thooe Ramolibeli

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