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LRA honors border agencies



MASERU-THE Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) has honoured its best performing border agencies, with the police working at Sani Top in Mokhotlong and Ramatšeliso at Qacha’s Nek border gates getting top accolades.
The awards ceremony was held last Friday.

Also among the best performers were the Northern and Central regions.
’Mabeng Nyabela from the Department of Immigration at the Home Affairs central region and Nokwanene Yengane from Caledon Spoort police were singled out as the best performers.

The awards ceremony was part of the Annual International Customs Day whose theme was ‘SMART borders for seamless trade, travelling and transport’ in Maseru.
’Makali Lepholisa, who is the head of LRA client services, said the day is celebrated globally every year on January 26.

She said the customs council was established in 1953 and later in 1994 the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was established.
Lepholisa said the Customs Day is meant to recognise the role of officials in all the border agencies working on trade-related matters, including the challenges which they come across.

“If you are working at the borders, you are at the forefront and the face of the country to any danger that comes in, and it passes through those people working at the borders,’’ Lepholisa said.
She said as members of WTO, they are expected to facilitate trade and come up with simplified and scanned processes and harmonise the processes on how to deal with trade matters.

Lepholisa said last year’s theme focused on how to deal with big data at borders.
She said local agencies are making significant progress as most services are now online while mobile scanners have eased pressure.
She said they are currently working with the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) to implement a project on information sharing with people abroad.

Lepholisa pleaded with the team to work together and avoid working in silos.
Lesotho is now ranked at number 38 out of 189 members, a marked improvement compared to the past years when the country was ranked 147 out of 189 countries.
“That is a huge (step) and it really shows that we are not doing everything for nothing, there is a lot we have achieved,’’ she said.

“We hold the economy of the country”.
The chairperson of National Trade Facilitation Committee, Mary Motebang, said international customs are crucial in terms of trade and no country can function without them.

She said the customs agency is vital for the growth of the country. Motebang said Lesotho is a land-locked country and as a ministry they are taking into consideration their role in clearing consignments.
She said most goods that enter the country are destined for the manufacturing industry. Even people bringing services into the country should not be held at the borders, she said.

Motebang said the cost of doing business increases and the performance fluctuates when services at the borders are inefficient. She commended the government for supporting moves to improve border services.
Motebang said Lesotho’s economy is anchored by small businesses which have the potential to grow and create employment if border services improve.

She commended the World Bank and the United Kingdom for being dependable partners. National Security Service head of border agency Mafisa Mafisa spoke against corruption.
“We cannot fight corruption if we are not able to collect banana peels on the ground,’’ he said.
“You cannot allow a person to enter with dangerous weapons into the country through bribes so that he or she could kill your siblings,’’ Mafisa said.

Deputy Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Police, Ezekiel Senti, said all stakeholders are working together to ensure the security of the country because that will improve the country’s economy.
Senti pleaded with the authorities to cooperate with the law enforcement agencies of the country.
He said many people, especially foreigners, are concerned about the poor services they get at the borders as a result of lack of resources.
He said people working at the borders need more support and training to inculcate a shared vision.

Refiloe Mpobole

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