Phori, BKB talks  collapse

Phori, BKB talks collapse

MASERU-TALKS between Small Businesses Minister Chalane Phori and a South Africa-based wool auctioneer BKB over securing a trading licence broke down on Monday.
thepost understands that BKB was trying to broker a deal with the government after a year of stalemate.

Phori told the government-controlled Radio Lesotho yesterday morning that he told the BKB representative to first clear their tax issues with the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) before they could engage him in any talks.
The minister has accused the wool and mohair broker of failing to pay taxes to the LRA, which is a criminal offence.
Phori said he also told them to deal with the levy they owe the Ministry of Agriculture before they could apply for a licence.

Phori has also in the past accused BKB of failing to pay sheep dipping levy to the ministry.
He also told the radio station that there is another company that is interested in acquiring the licence and if BKB delays to apply it is likely to lose the opportunity for good.

On Monday, Phori met with Isak Staats from BKB in an attempt to secure the highly sought after licence.
However, BKB says it left the meeting not certain that it would get the licence.
“We met with the minister to discuss the prospects of getting the licence as we have interest in opening a wool and mohair business in Lesotho,” Staats, who is the BKB general manager, told thepost.

He said they learned that in order to get the licence the company would have to construct a 10 000 square metre-building.
“There are buildings to hire in Maseru however, having to construct does not make business sense and I will have to talk to my board and hear what they say,” he said.

He said it would not be ideal for the business to invest at least M30 million to construct a facility without certainty that upon completion they would be in business.
He added that given a chance BKB would be offering Basotho quality services coupled with a transparent system that would allow them a chance to know everything they want to know. “We would also be selling to a wider range of the market as well as ensuring that farmers get paid on time without having to wait for months to be paid.”

Mahloenyeng Trading Centre is also in the race to get a licence as bringing more players would break the monopoly currently enjoyed by the Thaba-Bosiu Wool Centre.
According to the Managing Director, David Telford, there is hope that the company will get the much sought-after licence.

“It has been a long, challenging journey but we are hopeful that when all is said and done we will be a player in the market too,” Telford said.

Meanwhile, Anthony Kirsten of the South African Wool and Mohair Buyers Association (SAWAMBA), was also in the country and attended the meeting with Phori.
Kirsten indicated that the talks with the government will continue until common ground is reached.

Lemohang Rakotsoane

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