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LRA rebrands to Revenue Services Lesotho

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MASERU – THE Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) will starting this week be known as the Revenue Services Lesotho (RSL) following a rebranding exercise.

The Commissioner of Client Service at the RSL, ’Mathabo Mokoko, said the rebranding journey started back in 2018.

She said revenue from taxation and customs provides governments with the much needed funds to invest in development to relieve poverty and deliver public services and social infrastructures required to enhance long-term growth.

“Integrated revenue administration models have the potential to bring crucial improvements and effectiveness of tax administration,” Mokoko said.

Mokoko said also considering the new and daunting challenges in the local, regional and global environment it has become imperative to shift focus from the legacy approach and onto the softer non-enforcement collecting functions for improved administration processes.

“There is a dire need for a reform of the Lesotho revenue collection system for modernisation and to align with changes in the socio-economy,” she said.

Mokoko said the economy has become increasingly globalised with an increased amount of foreign investment and cross-border business transactions.

She said regional integration and globalisation of the economy has expanded business activities.

She said being faced with such a pace of globalisation tax, administrations need to deepen mutual understanding regarding international taxation standards including transfer pricing and tax treaties so that international businesses can be facilitated.

“In order to provide a better environment in tax matters, global collaboration is critical and unavoidable,” she said.

“It is critical to create an environment for proper tax payment,” she said.

“A strong and engaged private sector in cooperation with tax practitioners is indispensable to promote voluntary and by extension automatic tax compliance,” she said.

The General Commissioner of RSL, Thabo Khasipe, said this is the culmination of a five-year strategic plan to turn Lesotho Revenue Authority into Revenue Service.

“We no longer want to be an authority anymore, we want to be service providers,” Khasipe said.

He said this will help them in improving their revenue collection and improve automotive compliance amongst others.

Khasipe said for the past four consecutive years they have exceeded the revenue collection targets.

He said in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the revenue authority has been performing so well which shows efficiency.

He said in order to achieve more and meet the clients’ needs, this calls for much collaboration with all the stakeholders and clients.

The Minister of Finance, Thabo Sophonea, said the government is striving to mobilise greater tax revenue domestically by engaging the tax paying clients.

He said their major goal is to foster an overall culture of compliance in which citizens see paying taxes as an integral aspect of their relationship with their government.

Sophonea said as part of their plan to tackle the impact of Covid-19 which has already caused havoc to the economy, we should adopt this opportunity to reconfigure strategies that can expedite growth.

“RSL saw an opportunity in the negative view of the former organisation and are using it to their advantage,” he said.

He said through initiatives such as this one, the RSL sends a strong signal that Lesotho is open for business and investments that are mutually beneficial to create decent jobs and improve the livelihoods of Basotho.

The Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro said when the government signed off on the proposal to effect this change, they foresaw an organisation that could bring stability to the Lesotho tax framework.

He said this stability will be critical for businesses and revenue collection resources as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic and other economic challenges.

Majoro said good corporate governance has become an objective of every organisation to ensure its sustainability.

He said as you embark on a new organisational culture of service, one has to keep in mind the critical importance of integrity.

Majoro said clients and stakeholders are the ultimate beneficiaries of development that arises when the nation achieves financial independence.

He said their role is examined by their participation to determine what improvements can be made by adopting modern and innovative mechanisms to collect enough revenue and reduce donor dependence.

Therefore, he said partnerships with leading industry players will stand Basotho in good stead and help them keep up pace with today’s rapid changes in the global economy and technological landscape, and thereby adapt towards swift service delivery and economic independence.

He said through engagement RSL can keep abreast with the dynamic business environment and clients are able to share useful feedback about the quality of our services for continuous improvement.

 

Refiloe Mpobole

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Short courses for ex-mineworkers

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THE Lesotho Diamond Academy has introduced mining short courses, particularly to ex-mineworkers, to help them re-enter the mining sector.
The Essential Introductory Courses, which will run for two weeks, will start from June this year. The courses are meant particularly for people who worked in mines in South Africa.

The Academy’s CEO, Relebohile Molefe, unveiled the new courses during the graduation of 18 students last week, four of whom are now armed with Cutting and Polishing certificates while 14 graduated with Rough Diamond Evaluation certificates.

The new courses include the Essential Certificate in Diamond Grading and the Essential Certificate in Diamond Evaluation.

“The decision to offer these courses aligns with the Academy’s dedication to bridge the gap and ensure that individuals with valuable experience can seamlessly reintegrate into the diamond and jewelry industry,” Molefe said.

“By providing short courses, the academy does not only impart essential skills but also contributes to the sector’s growth by reactivating experienced individuals who had lost access to the industry due to no formal documents showing their experience in the industry,’’ she said.

During the graduation celebration, Molefe also unveiled a new sponsorship programme for various courses.

One outstanding student previously sponsored, who demonstrated exceptional proficiency in Rough Diamond Evaluation, was granted a fully funded bursary to further his studies into Advanced Certificate in Round Diamond Brilliantering.

In pursuit of its multifaceted objectives, one of which is to serve as a catalyst for employers in the diamond and jewelry sector to devise skills development strategies, the Academy is set to sponsor four additional students in the upcoming intake starting from February 15.

Two of these bursaries will afford a 30 percent discount on overall fees for two students progressing from Cutting and Polishing to advanced studies in Rough Diamond Evaluation.

Two will be fully funded bursaries to study for a Certificate in Diamond Cutting and Polishing.

Additionally, the institution will extend two fully funded bursaries to the public, fostering inclusivity and expanding opportunities.

The Academy says it plans to announce the search for two deserving Basotho individuals on its social media pages and website.

“Importantly, the bursary programme bears no age restrictions, reflecting a commitment to fairness and inclusiveness, ensuring that opportunities are accessible to all, irrespective of age,” it says in a statement.

The Academy says it seeks “to be a dynamic force in shaping the industry, not just within national borders, but also on regional and international platforms”.

“The emphasis on competitiveness within these markets underscores the institution’s commitment to producing graduates who are not only proficient but also globally competitive,” the statement reads.

“The recent graduation ceremony symbolises a milestone in the Academy’s journey. The success of its students is a testament to the quality of education and the foresight embedded in the curriculum.”

The Academy says its decision to sponsor further education for outstanding performers reflects a belief in nurturing talent and contributing to the continuous improvement of the diamond industry.

The Lesotho Diamond Academy was founded by the late Mpalipali Molefe, a prominent educator, diamond trader and an MP, who recognised the imperative to elevate professionalism in the diamond industry.

Staff Reporter

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Bank hands over uniforms to students

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THE Lesotho Post Bank donated uniforms to students at Leqele High School worth a staggering M60 000 as part of its Back-To-School campaign.
The bank said it did this “to keep needy children in school and to promote their education”.

A teacher at the school, Tšepo Semethe, said the uniforms will likely motivate the students to work harder in their studies.

Semethe insisted on giving the bank the names of the students so that it could check their performance at the end of the year.

“At Leqele High School, we work very hard because what we want is excellence above all. To us, hard work pays,” he said.

The bank’s Chief Risk Officer, Molefi Khama, said they are getting old, they will soon retire and Lesotho Post Bank will be in the hands of these children.

He pleaded with the students to work harder.

“This is why we decided to come here to support the students in their education so that when coming to school, they should be confident,” Khama said.

“We are watching you and waiting on you,” he said.

The school’s head prefect, Tholoana Monatsi, said from now on, “no student will be identified by what they wear”.

“(Lesotho) Post Bank made us one and we thank them for that because what we wear cannot stand before our education. We indeed thank you and forever you will hold special places in our hearts,” she said.

A parent, ’Marorisang Latela, said they were very grateful for the gift from Lesotho Post Bank adding that they must also donate to other schools.

Minister of Trade, Mokethi Shelile, promised to go back to the school to discuss how the children could learn in comfortable surroundings.

Relebohile Tšepe

 

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Mamello School of Special Needs wins prize

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MAMELLO School of Special Needs is the first-place winner of Standard Lesotho Bank’s Scaled-Up Pitching Den held at Maseru Avani on Tuesday.
The school has secured a grand prize for an all-expenses-paid trip to Kenya to participate as a finalist representing Lesotho at the Standard Bank Africa Awards.

The school, pioneered in 2020 during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic through Zoom classes, deals with children who live with conditions such as autism, attachment disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) dyslexia, Down syndrome and slow learners.


STKTM Solutions claimed the second-place spot, receiving a commendable M10 000, while Masia Farms secured third place and a M5 000 prize.


Pheello Masia of Masia Farms, thanked Standard Lesotho Bank for backing their vision and that of other Basotho entrepreneurs.


He acknowledged that the bank’s faith in their endeavours serves as a source of inspiration, propelling them to work harder and foster growth within the community.


The event, aimed at fortifying support and fostering regional integration for Basotho entrepreneurs across the African continent, showcased the bank’s commitment to driving the growth of Lesotho.


Malatola Phothane, Head of Enterprise Banking at Standard Lesotho Bank, set the tone in his welcoming remarks.


“As Standard Lesotho Bank, through business and commercial banking, we strive to turn possibilities into opportunities,” Phothane said.


“Lesotho is our home, and we drive her growth,” he said.


His words resonated with the bank’s dedication to nurturing local talent and fostering economic development.


Phothane acknowledged the eight finalists, commending them for their resilience and passion for their businesses.


He emphasised how each entrepreneur had stood their ground, displaying knowledge and unwavering commitment.


The recognition not only highlighted the achievements of the finalists but also underscored the bank’s role in recognising and uplifting the entrepreneurial spirit within the community.


Aliciah Motšoane, founder of Prestige Furnitures and Sentebale Gap Funeral Services, played a significant role at the event as a motivational speaker, sharing her entrepreneurial journey filled with challenges and triumphs.


She recounted her humble beginnings when she was selling bread in high school, leading to the establishment of Prestige Furnitures in 1998.


Despite facing a significant setback after her shop was burnt down during the riots and incurring a loss of M5 million, Motšoane never gave up.


She said business is always a demanding endeavour adding that it needs hard work and a unique mindset.


She urged entrepreneurs to embrace their roots, seek inspiration, and persevere through challenges.


The keynote speaker, the bank’s Head of Business and Commercial Clients, Keketso Makara, said the bank is committed to foster a thriving business environment, highlighting the pivotal role of youth collaboration across diverse economic sectors.


Makara said their mandate aims to empower youths in steering the private sector towards growth, contributing to economic diversification.


Makara urged the eight finalists to actively involve bankers in refining their proposals for maximum impact on economic stimulation and sustainable development.


The bank said the Scaled-Up Pitching Den not only served as a stage for entrepreneurs to present their ventures but also acted as a driving force for networking, collaboration, and collective empowerment.

Staff Reporter

 

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