THE Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) has surpassed its first quarter revenue collection target of M1 696 000 by M5, 7million.
The authority said this puts it in a good position to meet its annual target in the current financial year after two consecutive misses.
This was said by Lineo Matšepo Selialia, the senior manager in the delivery unit under the Commissioner General’s office on the sidelines of a breakfast meeting this week.
Ms Selialia said the first quarter performance has vastly improved from what the organisation has managed in the last four financial years.
The organisation’s first quarter revenue collection performance shows that it surpassed its revenue collection target of M1 695 648 300 and collected M1 701 390 000.
This collection averaged 33 percent of the total revenue the tax authority is expected to collect and remit to government at the end of the financial year.
Ms Selialia said at this time of the year the level of revenue collected is normally below 30 percent of the total annual revenue collection.
“Over the past three months this year, we have witnessed a positive change in the revenue collection performance, which has been quite good,” Ms Selialia said.
“The money we have collected so far has met our quarterly target and is more than what we collected in the past four years at this time of the year.
“We have surpassed what we normally collect at this time of the year by about five percent and I must say the first quarter of every financial year is a very difficult time to collect revenue, so our performance has been encouraging.”
She attributed the positive upturn in the authority’s fortunes to the interventions that were introduced this year to consolidate revenue collection as part of the broader new strategic direction of the organisation.
In line with its five-year strategic plan 2018-2023, which seeks to depart from the heavy-handed to a friendlier approach to ensure compliance, LRA in April this year introduced the Voluntary Disclosure Programme (VDP) to encourage past defaulters to comply with their tax obligations without penalties and prosecution.
This was soon followed by the Simplified Business Tax (SBT) initiative, which sought to make it easier for the smaller enterprises to pay tax.
Ms Selialia said she also believes that the attitude of their staff has improved and has also made it easier for taxpayers to comply with tax laws.
“I believe our staff’s attitude has improved as we are starting to buy into the new strategy of the organisation. Secondly, there are new processes that we have introduced which I believe have also played a significant part to the performance.
“In particular, the SBT has helped us to reach those small businesses that were willing to pay tax but finding it difficult to do so. They no longer have to go through the cumbersome process of filling forms to comply, instead they just pay the amount they want to pay.”
She said since its launch earlier this year, SBT has brought 16 000 new taxpayers into the tax pool.
The tax authority failed to meet its revenue target of M6, 597 billion in 2017/18 financial year and instead collected M5, 989 billion. This translated to a shortfall of M607.38 million or 9, 2 percent.
In the 2016/17 financial year, the LRA remitted M5, 9 billion to the government, failing to meet the set target of M6, 4 billion. This translated to a 7 percent shortfall.
“Looking ahead, we are confident that we are going to meet the revenue collection target for the year considering the performance we are seeing, also including the positive attitude of our staff in embracing the challenge before them,” Ms Selialia said.