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Minister urges new RSL boss to broaden tax net

MINISTER of Finance and Development Planning, Retšlisitsoe Matlanyane

Lesotho Times

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Leemisa Thuseho/Moroke Sekoboto

Finance and Development Planning Minister, Rets’elisitsoe Matlanyane, has urged newly appointed Revenue Services Lesotho (RSL) Commissioner-General, ‘Mathabo Mokoko, to broaden the tax net to help the institution meet its mandate.

Dr Matlanyane said this would ensure more institutions are paying tax instead of a few entities, adding a fair tax system treats taxpayers equally.

“I call upon you and your team to ensure that you take decisive measures to collect from all eligible taxpayers without fear, favour or prejudice as the law actually empowers you to do just that,” Dr Matlanyane said.

“I implore you and your team to embark on strategies that will enable you to broaden the tax net to avoid a situation where only a few are burdened with paying tax while the majority walk free. A fair tax system is one that treats taxpayers equally.”

Dr Matlanyane said this during the official introduction of Ms Mokoko as the new RSL Commissioner-General. The introduction took place during a function held on Monday at the Finance ministry offices in Maseru.

Ms Mokoko was appointed to the RSL helm at the beginning of this month after holding the position in an acting capacity, for over eight months following the departure of former Commissioner-General, Thabo Khasipe late last year.

Mr Khasipe joined the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) as Executive Secretary, thereby creating a vacuum in the RSL.

Dr Matlanyane said Ms Mokoko had signed a three-year contract subject to renewal for a further three years. According to the minister, seven candidates had been vying for the coveted post.

“As of Friday, 1 September 2023, I, in terms of Section 17 (2) of the RSL Act, have approved the appointment of Mrs Mathabo Mokoko as the Commissioner-General of Revenue Services Lesotho. Her term is for three years with an option of renewal for another three years to make it a six-year term,” Dr Matlanyane said.

Ms Mokoko is an admitted Advocate of the High Court and Court of Appeal. She graduated with a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Lesotho, and further obtained a Master’s in Taxation from the University of Pretoria. She has previously worked as a practicing Advocate at a private law firm, and also taught taxation as a part-time lecturer at NUL.

She has served in several roles at the RSL, when it was known as the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA), first as a Legal Officer, then Legal Officer Law Interpretation and Senior Manager – Policy Procedures and Law Interpretation. She also worked at the United Nations headquarters in New York, where she was Inter-Regional Advisor on international tax matters.

Ms Mokoko’s career also included stints as Head Legal and Board Secretary, and Manager-Legal Affairs and Company Secretary at the Water and Sewerage Company (WASCO) and Vodacom Lesotho, respectively. She re-joined the Revenue Services Lesotho as Commissioner-Operations

Support, then moved to the Client Services Division as the Commissioner of Client Services, a position she held until her new appointment as Commissioner-General.

Due to Ms Mokoko’s familiarity with the RSL, Dr Matlanyane believes her experience would be invaluable in her leadership, as well as setting relevant strategies to ensure the revenue collection body’s success.

The minister further indicated that Ms Mokoko’s appointment comes at a very critical time in the global economic outlook.

“Ms Mokoko is assuming the reins at a very critical period, where we have just emerged from the devastating effects of COVID-19 pandemic,” the minister said.

“The effects of global warming are also there for everyone to see. In recent times, we have experienced destructive weather conditions which have negatively impacted our infrastructure. Countrywide, we have bridges to reconstruct, roads to rebuild, potholes to fill, healthcare facilities to upgrade, new infrastructure projects to undertake, and employment opportunities to create.”

Dr Matlanyane said for the country to meet all these demands, Lesotho must mobilize revenue and the RSL should “make all demands possible” to raise the much-needed funds.

“For RSL to effectively discharge its mandate, it must take all necessary measures to ensure that all revenue due to the government of Lesotho is fully collected. We now live in a modern era where technology has taken centre-stage and most economic activities take place through digital platforms,” ,” Dr Matlanyane said.

“We should therefore demonstrate to our nation and the world at large, that we are capable of taking care of ourselves.”

Additionally, Dr Matlanyane made a passionate appeal to development partners to support initiatives geared at maximizing revenue-collection and vowed that government

“will do all it can to support the RSL”.

“The modernizing journey that the RSL embarked on a few years ago shall continue unabated, and financial support is critical in this regard. So I urge development partners and friends, to come on board and lend a helping hand when RSL comes knocking at their doors for assistance and support,” Dr Matlanyane said.

“I plead with the RSL board, management, and staff to provide the new leader with all the support she needs. In the same breath, I appeal to the taxpaying community to offer their support by voluntarily complying with their tax obligations.

“Ms Mokoko cannot be successful in this role without support from all relevant stakeholders. As government she has our full support.”

Welcoming the opportunity presented to her to be at the RSL helm, Ms Mokoko promised to work hard for the success of the tax authority and accordingly, Lesotho’s economic boon.

“I am very honoured to have been given this opportunity and I promise Basotho that I am going to work hard. The success of  the RSL is the success of this country,” Ms Mokoko said.

The new RSL boss further noted that she was looking forward to making tax-paying easy, convenient, and enjoyable for taxpayers. She added it was time Basotho, especially businesspeople, embraced the use of technology in making their respective tax transactions.

“We are going to make tax-paying easy, fast, and interesting. One other thing is to make moves towards turning businesspeople into exporters and move away from the current situation where we depend mainly on importing.

“Therefore, what I can tell the tax-paying community is that they should start embracing the use of technology,” Ms Mokoko said.

Among her priorities, Ms Mokoko added, was improving the wellbeing of RSL personnel as she believes when they are happy and working in a conducive environment, “there is no doubt that they will serve the nation accordingly”.

Again, Ms Mokoko promised to prioritise building relationships with all RSL stakeholders.