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‘Simplify border clearance procedures’

’Mantoetse Maama

MASERU — Revenue authority officials have been urged to improve services by simplifying documentation filled at the country’s border posts.
Stakeholders told a Time Release Study (TRS) feedback workshop organised by the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) and South African Revenue Authority (SARS) that service was slow because the process to fill in the forms was complicated.
The study is a joint initiative between the LRA and SARS to determine the effectiveness of customs processes and procedures.
The initiative also examined the work of other stakeholders manning border posts between Lesotho and South Africa such as immigration and the Road Fund.
The workshop was aimed at presenting findings from the TRS data collection exercise conducted from October 17 to 24 at Maseru, Maputsoe and Ficksburg border posts.
Stakeholders, who included textile factory representatives, business people, and officials from the Lesotho National Development Corporation, said the clearing of import and export goods was a nightmare because of the requirements by the two revenue authorities.
“The form to be filled is very long and complicated. This wastes a lot of our precious time,” they said.
They suggested that the LRA should change the form into a booklet that has a company’s details.
This booklet should stay with either of the two revenue authorities and should only be produced when it is needed by the business people.
“The business people only need to fill information about the goods they are importing or exporting at the borders and leave the booklet there,” the stakeholders said.
They suggested that to do away with the complicated forms, the authorities could put up a specimen showing consumers how to fill in.
“The current form is very complicated and difficult to understand.
“Putting up an LCD screen will also be helpful and it should be in both official languages,” the stakeholders said.
They complained that they were sometimes delayed by border officials when they change shifts.
The stakeholders also suggested that fines be paid at the border gate instead of in Ladybrand because this wastes money and time.
“LRA officials need customer service training as they sometimes engaged in social talk while ignoring queuing customers,” they said.
“Some of them are rude and disrespectful to customers.”
The director of immigration, Matseliso Ramathe, said she was concerned that a lot of Basotho had a tendency of not producing their passports on the Lesotho side and feel delayed when they are asked to do so by South African immigration officials.
“This is the procedure, but many travellers don’t seem to understand this,” she said.

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