The Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) has undertaken an extensive Customs Modernisation Programme aimed at simplifying the processes and reducing the costs of ‘doing business’ at the border. Earlier this week, the LRA launched the Lesotho Trade Portal as an introduction of the first portion of these reforms which brings a commitment to transparency for all border users on expectations and procedures. The launch of the portal will be followed by an introduction of simplified border procedures supported by the implementation of modern computerised systems using ASYCUDA World.
The LRA has been reorganising its structure the past year aligning it with organisational strategy, and alongside that as a result of the modernisation, there will be extensive restructuring to promote efficiency and professionalism in customs and across the LRA. Staff members are undergoing extensive training to prepare for the introduction of the new systems.
To facilitate legitimate trade and enhance compliance LRA will introduce risk based controls to enable legitimate trade to pass more freely through the border posts and following the recent pilot project, there will be a full introduction of a ‘Preferred Trader Scheme’ offering additional facilitation benefits to compliant traders.
Through use of modern technology LRA will speed up the inspection process as they will be coordinated and organised from dedicated inspection areas. There will eventually be an introduction of inland clearance to improve service delivery and clearance time.
To protect legitimate trade and reduce market distortion, there will be targeted anti-smuggling activities. This will be for deterrence of illicit and illegal goods as well as to protect the nation from prohibited importation of goods.
The Lesotho Business Partnership Forum has also voiced its unanimous approval of the Lesotho Trade Portal. It believes this milestone represents a major breakthrough in the relationship between business and government. It reveals a level of transparency in procedures and processes which business can only welcome as a sign of a more constructive and open approach to the management of government affairs.
Similarly, the traders and general public will participate in an extensive publicity campaign with announcement in the media as to how to get involved and benefit from the reforms. A key tool in this process to keep everyone on the loop, will be the News section of Lesotho Trade Portal itself. This will be supported by an extensive communications programme and an education programme targeted at regular border users. Source: Lesotho Revenue Authority