The Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) is a body that was established by the government of the mountain kingdom by act no.14 of parliament in 2001 but became operational in January 2003, is principally responsible for the assessment and collection of revenue on behalf of the government. The L.R.A responsibility is administering and enforcing the tax laws in Lesotho, so as to prevent tax fraud and fiscal evasion.
L.R.A incorporates the functions of the collection of income tax, customs and excise duties and sales tax. The body was established to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of revenue collection and to provide an improved service to the public. The authority is required to maintain the highest standards of financial integrity and corporate governance. Despite operating outside the framework of the civil service, the authority is fully accountable to the parliament.
The authority in charge of the revenue collectors is the ministry of finance, under the supervision of Lesotho Congress for Democracy (L.C.D) party member of the parliament for Leribe no.12 Honourable Leketekete Victor Ketso, and has been in office since June 2012. The revenue collected by L.R.A is used to maintain the infrastructure of the Kingdom in the sky under the national budget.
Some of the tax collected has been used to upgrade schools and further build schools in Lesotho, especially in the remote areas of the country. Moreover, the money is used to sponsor higher learning students through the National Manpower Development Secretariat (N.M.D.S), of which they pay it back after completion of their studies. The objective is to create a platform for every student who meets the needed requirements for sponsorship. On the same platform of education, the revenue authority had been sponsoring national debates for high school students; by awarding them after debates. This is done to uplift the spirit of competition among students and creates an environment for critical thinking, as a preparation to make them future leaders with sound minds.
Amongst other responsibilities the authority has been involved in health responsibilities, such as building clinics and upgrading some around the country with the aid of Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). The maintenance of such facilities help Basotho to reduce diseases and make a healthy environment for present and future economic upholders. The border agencies have taken the prevention measures following the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease. So the LRA port health department with the tax they had introduced the pre-epidemic, during epidemic and post epidemic measures to get rid of the virus, they did that by educating people about the disease deadly virus. The department will also deploy additional nurses at ports of entry.
LRA joined the National Emergency Services forum led by Disaster Management Authority (DMA). Senior Risk and Governance Manager Mr. Lejone Mpotjoane declared that the event was necessitated by the earthquake that hit Lesotho this present year. Some of the main priority for the national forum was to establish a national emergency services centre which seeks to; coordinate emergency services nationwide, maintain national emergency services equipment in Lesotho and establish emergency services Call Centre. The involvement of LRA in the forum will give the authority a chance to gain support from the public on tax payments and also create a friendly environment for Basotho.
The authority also collects revenue to make a better living for the vulnerable children in charity homes and the elderly over the age of 70. The other operations included the electricity supply at the remote places, because it is scarcely accessible if not accessible. The tarred roads are also made with the funds from the collected revenue. The revenue is collected with variation of rates depending on the method used for taxation, those methods include; Value Added Tax (V.A.T) which is 14%, Pay As You Earn (P.A.Y.E) of which its rates differ depending on an individual’s income and business tax.
In as much as LRA is striving to better the lives of Basotho, there are some irregularities that are created by tax payers that hinder the progression of the Authority, which includes corruption and fraud. One of the fraud cases is of Mr. Sikeme Sebotsa a local accountant who was assisting dodgy taxpayers to falsify records for their declarations at the LRA advice centre, he pleaded guilty to all charges before the magistrate court and was sentenced to 5 years in jail or a fine of M5, 000.
“The revenue authority has penalties for those who try to evict taxation, those penalties include possessing their stuff that had not been paid for and sold for an amount that was supposed to be paid to LRA, paying for that stuff includes methods such as auction.” Declared Public and Media specialist Ts’epang Mncina
For those who try to evict customs duties the authority introduced the system called Automated System for Customs Data, known as (ASYCUDA), which aims on reducing corruption and smuggling.