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Business IDs for Lesotho



MASERU – ALL businesses operating in Lesotho will now be required to register with the Ministry of Trade to acquire a Business Licensing Identity Document (ID). The requirement to register is contained in the Business Licencing and Registration Act 2019 and Registration Regulations of 2020.

The business ID will help, among other things, to identify Basotho-owned businesses so that they can receive preferential treatment. Foreign-owned businesses will also be required to register so that it will be easy for the authorities to monitor them for compliance with relevant laws.

The Lesotho Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and the Ministry of Trade held a workshop in Maseru on Tuesday to sensitise businesses about the requirement. The Maseru District Administrator (DA), Mpane Nthunya, said local businesses have been complaining for years about unfair treatment with foreign businesses.

He said this is why the LCCI has embarked on an initiative to listen and address the challenges for local businesses. The President of LCCI, Ntaote Seboka, said the new regulation “will affect all entrepreneurs regardless of their business class including the foreigners”.

“This regulation will further affect the businesses which are operating illegally,” Seboka said.

He said for an entrepreneur to be registered under this new regulation, there will be inspections conducted to ensure that such an entrepreneur has all necessary documents to be running a business. Seboka said they realised that there are more businesses operating illegally hence they fought to ensure that the Act is implemented.

He said the registration of businesses under this law will act as a catalyst to reduce the rate at which foreigners are operating without following legal processes. Advocate Tšeli Lehohla said the Business Licensing and Registration Act and registration repealed the Trade Enterprises Act.

She said the main objective for this Act is to ensure that the informal sector is included in the business Act. She said most Basotho-owned businesses were affected by Covid-19.

However, the ministry could not help them since they were not registered. The Minister of Public Works, Lebohang Monaheng, on behalf of the Minister of Trade, said the road show which was held by the LCCI together with the Ministry of Trade has enhanced the business environment.

“It is our responsibility to create a conducive environment for businesses in the country,” Monaheng said.

He said the ministry has since realised that most of the businesses are being operated by foreigners, hence it is their responsibility to ensure that Basotho take the lead in the business sector. He said they have selected some businesses of which Basotho are best performing to ensure that the sector is fully run by Basotho, such as logistics.

He appealed to entrepreneurs to collaborate with the ministry to overcome these challenges. The compliance officer, Limpho Makholela, said this new Act aims at facilitating promotion of private sector development through inclusion of all types of businesses into the formal sector.

He said this will help in facilitating the speedy issuing of licenses and registration of businesses. Makholela said the fee for registration is M500 which is renewable after three years for local businesses unless the business or a holder ceases to exist.

However, he said for foreign business the registration is valid for a year. Makholela said the business registration identity card will be used by all public authorities in their dealings with the business enterprises.

He said this will ensure that a business can be easily identified by its business identity number by all public authorities rather than a different number for each authority. He said the regulations provide for reserved business activities which are exclusively reserved for the citizens of Lesotho. He said this will give Basotho an opportunity to grow their businesses in other sectors without fear of facing stiff competition from foreign businesses.

Refiloe Mpobole

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