Electronic tariff platform goes live in Lesotho

On 10 June 2022, the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) held an inauguration ceremony to announce the official launch of a new electronic tariff platform, developed by the LRA in partnership with the EU-WCO Programme for Harmonized System in Africa (HS-Africa Programme), funded by the European Union.

At the invitation of the LRA Commissioner General Mr. Thabo Khasipe, the event was attended by senior representatives of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, SACU Secretariat, the European Union (EU) Delegation to Lesotho, the WCO and a wide audience of stakeholders, including private sector. The WCO Secretary General Dr. Kunio Mikuriya delivered remarks at the opening of the ceremony.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Tseko Nyesemane, Deputy Commissioner Customs expressed his appreciation to the WCO, the EU and the e-tariff technical team of the LRA, stressing that the new platform would contribute to the automation and digitalization of Customs clearance processes. He pointed out that the initiative would enhance the efficiency of LRA services to stakeholders. He recalled the ongoing transformation of the revenue system in Lesotho emphasizing that the e-tariff platform would be an important achievement in the context of this process, contributing to modernization of revenue service across the country.

Congratulating the LRA on the inauguration of the electronic tariff platform, Dr. Mikuriya stressed that as the world was recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of digitalization of Customs procedures towards paperless trade could not be overemphasized as it contributed substantially to the ease of doing business. He recalled that the WCO theme of the year 2022 was “Scaling up Customs Digital Transformation by Embracing a Data Culture and Building a Data Ecosystem”, welcoming the new tariff platform as an important step towards that objective. He pledged continued assistance for Africa under the HS-Africa Programme, thanking the EU for its financial support.

In her welcoming address, Ms. Tsireletso Mojela, Deputy Principal Secretary at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, thanked the WCO and the EU for their assistance in the implementation of the electronic tariff platform. She commended the LRA on the success of the project, stressing that trade facilitation work was high on the agenda of the government in Lesotho, with the National Trade Facilitation Committee coordinating the implementation of various initiatives with the relevant stakeholders. She stressed the key role of WCO standards, such as the HS and the Revised Kyoto Convention, in the modernization of Customs work, and reiterated her administration’s sustained interest in strengthening that work further.

Speaking on behalf of the EU Delegation in Lesotho, Mr. Tomás Pallás Aparisi, Trade and Private Sector Development correspondent, welcomed the successful implementation of the new electronic tool in Lesotho. He pointed out that the EU would be keen on supporting such initiatives as they contributed to facilitating international trade, and trade was creating jobs, reducing poverty and furthering economic development. He expressed his confidence in the success of the new tool, which would help remove trade barriers and contribute to the creation of the continental free trade area in Africa.

After a demonstration of the new platform, other speakers took the floor to welcome the implementation of the tariff platform, stressing that it would help bring Lesotho into a better alignment with international standards of the WCO, the WTO and the AfCFTA. The inauguration ceremony was preceded by a series of workshops to explain the functioning of the new tool to Customs officials. The ceremony concluded by activating the electronic tariff platform on the LRA website and making it fully operational.

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