Border crossings tax clearance go electronic

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…migration from manual to electronic meant to reduce smuggling and empowers taxman

By Mamello Mosaefane

The national assembly of Lesotho is working on finalizing a customs and excise bill that will see the tax clearance services at Lesotho borders migrate from manual filling to electronic systems usage.

The house last week resolved to adopt a report of the portfolio committee on economic and development cluster on the customs and excise Bill, 2019 allowing for amendments that will bring forth better services for businesses.

Presenting the report on the Bill, the chairperson of the portfolio committee legislator Mahooana Khati, said amending the custom and excise bill will be beneficial for both the country and businesses in various ways.

He said it will help Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA), with smooth tax collection service for the betterment of its collections and speed service delivery for the betterment of the country’s economy.

Khati said the manual system currently used by LRA at the borders makes it easier for some businesses to smuggle some goods in or out of the country undetected resulting in an inability to collect revenue of such goods.

“The country is losing a lot of money because of failure to collect a tax of some smuggled goods,” Khati said.

He, therefore, stressed that, with the new electronic system, that comes with amending this Bill, “smuggling will no longer be a problem and LRA will collect more revenue”.

The electronic system, Khati said will also allow for the tracing of all goods imported and exported; allowing customs to identify where they were purchased.

The electronic system also comes with the benefit of minimizing the time spent on the clearing process that Khati said is currently taking many days to do.

He said businesses will no longer have to be in long stock clearance queues at the borders with the coming technology.

Furthermore, Khati said businesses that comply with the clearance rules will be at an advantage of being offered a discount on the goods they clear.

“For example, if one has to clear goods worth 10%, they will on some days get a discount and clear only 8% if they appear to be trusted taxpayers,” said Khati.

The law currently vests all the power in the courts of law to punish those who do not comply with customs laws.

Khati said this hinders LRA’s role to collect revenue, as people have to be taken to court even for minor offenses; with some cases dragging in court while LRA could have solved them and collected tax from such people.

Amending the Bill, Khati said will vest some power in the commissioner of customs and he or she will be able to punish and make rulings of minor offenses committed by businesses at borders.

This, according to Khati will ease LRA’s job in dealing with their clients at the boarders.

MEC deputy leader, Tšepang Tšita-Mosena, said the electronic system will allow for LRA and its South African Revenue Services counterparts to have equal authority on the trading system.

Mosena also advised businesses to start going online for their businesses to ease LRA’s job with the electronic clearance system.

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