MASERU — The Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) council members are meeting in Namibia today to discuss the development of a regional industrial policy covering cross-border collaboration projects.
Lesotho is represented at the meeting as a member of the grouping, alongside Swaziland, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa.
Faced with a dwindling revenue base over the past few years, Sacu is under pressure to seek ways of beefing up its financial muscle.
Sacu revenue makes up 60 percent of Lesotho’s revenue.
Last year the country received M2.2 billion from Sacu but this figure is set to decline significantly to below M2 billion in the next financial year, according to government estimates.
Sacu was established in 1910, making it the world’s oldest customs union.
A press statement from the Sacu secretariat said today’s meeting will also discuss recommendations on the allocation of revenue shares to member states for the year 2012/13.
The union’s council of ministers will also discuss the executive secretary’s report that provides an overview of regional and continental developments which have taken place since the beginning of this year.
“The council will examine submitted proposals regarding follow up work and feedback on the Secretariat’s collaboration initiatives with other international organisations,” the statement said.
“Another issue for council’s consideration will be the draft amendments to the Sacu Agreement, 2002, to institutionalise the Sacu Summit.”
A progress report on the ongoing trade negotiations with third parties will also be tabled for discussion by the meeting.
Other issues to be presented include a progress report on the development of a common negotiating mechanism for Sacu.
A report on the quarterly performance of the common revenue pool and one of the task team on the Sacu headquarters building project will also be presented.
Another report will be of the finance and audit committee, which include the budget proposals for the secretariat for the coming financial year.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently said Basotho will have to pay more in taxes, fines and service charges if the government is to make up for the declining revenue from the Sacu.
The fund recommended that member states should increase taxation and cut expenditure to stabilise their budgets.
This means that people could be charged more than what they are paying now to access government services.
“The impact of the import decline on Sacu revenue is expected to be larger for the smaller members of the union, including Lesotho,” it said.