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Fraud: LRA boss cracks whip

Tim ThahaneMpeshe Selebalo

MASERU — The Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) commissioner-general, Thabo Letjama, has vowed to stamp out corruption at the country’s border posts.
The revenue authority boss made the remarks at the official opening of the refurbished Maseru Bridge on Thursday.
New border facilities were also built and officially opened at Maputsoe Bridge in Leribe, about 80 km north of Maseru.
The two facilities were built at a cost of M15 million.
“We expect compliance with the laws we administer at the border, honesty, co-operation and also mutual respect.
“We shall not tolerate corruption and fraud in all their forms, done by our officers and clients,” Letjama said.
There have been several incidents in the past in which LRA officers have been arrested and dragged before the courts for soliciting bribes.
Letjama said those who engage in corrupt practices at the border are “guilty of conspiracy to defraud Basotho of their livelihood for their own selfish interests”.
“This cannot be tolerated and it is something that all of us have to join hands and stop.”
He said the new facilities at Maseru Bridge, the country’s busiest entry port, are expected to improve efficiency and achieve “excellence in service”.
The new buildings have internet hubs to allow LRA officers to efficiently collect Value Added Tax (VAT) and perform other customs duties.
Letjama said he expected officers serving at the border post to work with speed, transparency and courtesy as the border post was a gateway to the country.
Speaking at the same occasion, Finance Minister Timothy Thahane said his ministry was already assembling an independent committee to oversee and regulate operations at the border post.
Thahane said the committee will provide a platform for travellers to lodge their complaints which will be forwarded to the LRA commissioner-general.
“All border authorities are committed to improving services offered at the borders through speedy and efficient service to the public using the borders.
“We are committed, together with the government of the Republic of South Africa, so that there will be one inspection point where officers from both countries can operate in one place to improve efficiency and speed at our borders,” said Thahane. 
Deputy Prime Minister Lesao Lehohla said the government had seen a clear need to revamp facilities at the Maseru Bridge.
He said the facilities which were built decades ago were never meant to handle the current volumes of traffic passing through the border.
“The government has budgeted M35 million for the refurbishment of the remaining border posts in this fiscal year,” Lehohla said.
Lehohla said the government was already preparing to refurbish Tele Bridge in Quthing and Van Rooyens Bridge in Mafeteng district.
He said there have been discussions between Lesotho and South Africa to set up a one-stop border post between the two countries.
“There is an on-going dialogue between the Lesotho Revenue Authority and the South African Revenue Services aimed at providing for joint enforcement of customs controls that will culminate in a one-stop border post,” said Lehohla.

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