Fokothi in M13m tax scandal

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By Billy Ntaote

MASERU — The Lerotholi Polytechnic Rector, Mr Tsietsi Lebakae, was suspended this week after it emerged the government-owned tertiary institution owed M13 million in tax.

The college decided to suspend Mr Lebakae after receiving a letter from the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) indicating the institution, popularly known as Fokothi, had not been paying tax as required by the law.
In an interview, the college’s Registrar, Advocate Hlomohang Majara, said after receiving the LRA letter on Monday, the school’s Governing Council had convened an urgent meeting, resulting in Mr Lebakae’s immediate and indefinite suspension.

“It has been realised that the employees’ payslips always indicated that Pay-As-You-Earn tax was being deducted from their salaries, yet we still owe the LRA this M13 million. This is the money we suspect was supposed to have been paid to the LRA over the past two to three years.
“This means our investigations are going to focus on the 2011/2012, 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 financial years,” Adv Majara said, adding Mr Lebakae was suspended due to his position as the college’s Chief Accounting Officer.

Adv Majara said by the end of the week, forensic investigators would have been appointed to probe the college’s finances, and “get to the bottom of the embarrassing situation”.
“When the investigations have been concluded, we will know exactly who is to blame for this situation the college finds itself in,” she said.

Attempts by the Lesotho Times to get hold of Mr Lebakae on his mobile-phone, as well as his home, proved futile.

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