By Kefiloe Kajane
Just in time for 2020/2021 filing season the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) says in the last financial year, it was assigned a target of M5.605billion down from M7.591 billion (35 percent reduction due to Covid-19 impact).
This was mentioned by LRA commissioner Thabo Khasipe at a media briefing this week. He indicated that LRA has been able to remit M6.350billion against the M5.605 billion (exceeding by 13 percent M745 million) Income Tax (IT) at M3.274billion targeted for 2020/21 FY was exceeded by 14 percent (remitting M3.743billion).
Khasipe indicated that VAT with a target of M2.331 billion has been exceeded by 12 percent (remitting M2.608 billion).
“Refunds paid amounted to M1.05 billion, 16 percent more than refunds paid in 2019/20 the FY. The mining and the finance and insurance industries accounted for the largest share of refunds pay-outs,” he said.
The minister of finance, Thabo Sophonea, said the 2020/2021 financial year was the most difficult year any minister of finance could face. He said economic activities were significantly constrained due to Covid-19, while on one hand, the need for funds to fight the pandemic were at an all-time high.
He further said this required an intricate balancing act of maximizing revenue collection while also supporting both businesses and citizens during the trying times.
“The government cherishes the idea of taxpayers who voluntarily comply with their tax obligations without LRA having to chase them. We believe that to some extent this ideal will be achieved by LRA investing in strategic partnerships and technology to improve its efficiency, and curb revenue leakages.
“I am aware that LRA will be embracing what they call automatic compliance through harnessing big data and strategic relationships. I wish to implore all those strategic partners; be it public or private sector to willingly cooperate with LRA for this to happen because it is for the benefit of Lesotho and Basotho,” Sophonea said.
He mentioned that as it was stated in previous national budget pronouncements, LRA has also been mandated by government to collect non-tax revenue.
He said it is expected that by end of this financial year, LRA would be in a position to come up with a model and a clear road map that will enable them to implement this directive.
The LRA board member Robert Likhang stated that the previous year had many challenges, that are continuing with the stubborn Covid-19, and reducing SACU revenues.
“In the coming year, we need to be diligent and focused to not only reduce the cost collection but to increase amount of collection. To this effect, we plead with minister of finance to expand our mandate to collection of non-tax revenue as it is done by many tax administrators around the world. We will use our capabilities and competences to, as stated above, increase collection in the most efficient manner,” Likhang said.