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Lesotho loses over M1.4 billion to corruption

MAJIRATA LATELA

From 2013-2016 Lesotho lost more than M1, 479,049,462.60 to corruption, misuse of public funds and under collection of revenue.

The Public accounts committee (PAC), in a report tabled before the National Assembly of Lesotho today showed that within the 2013-2016 period government of Lesotho lost a minimum amount of M1, 479,049,462.60 due to corruption and under collection of revenue by government ministries and department.

The PAC reports to parliament indicate this huge loss of funds reiterates the seriousness of poor internal controls across board.

The committee said the amount discovered “is the amount discovered by the committee only on areas where it was able to touch”.

“Most of the funds are lost on corruption as evidence contained in this report show a significant number of criminal fraudulent cases by public officers”.

For instance in the office of the Master of High Court’s guardian fund during the 2012-2015 financial years, it shows that amounts such as the one recorded as lost in financial statements submitted to the Accountant General totalling M31,058, 191 for 2012/13; 2013/14 and 2014/15 financial years is one of the fraudulent cases by public officers.

In other instances, the committee dealt with the mismanagement of cash is the Durban Consulate by Consul General, Lerato Tšosane.

Tšosane, the Committee said in the report acknowledged depositing M500, 000 into her personal bank account for running the Consul Office in stark contravention of financial laws and regulations.

The report further points that Tšosane was only able to establish the use of M75, 555.67 of the money and failing to verify the balance of M424,444,33.

PAC further adds that another significant loss pertains to the taxes, royalties and dividends that the Government of Lesotho is supposed to collect from the mining companies, parastatals and other state owned enterprises.

The Committee reported that there is lack of consultation between the ministry of mining and other ministries which has resulted in the loss of royalties amounting to M27,472, 971.48 which were not paid in 2009.

Also the Mines and Minerals Act 2005, the committee reported to parliament stipulates that royalties should be charged at ten percent but the mining ministry has been collecting between four percent and eight percent from 2009 to 2012 with an underpayment of M119, 544, 694.00.

“This underpayment of royalties has resulted in more than M239, 388.00 loss of revenue for the government of Lesotho to date.

“Lesotho can do better if the line ministries could adhere to their mandates and strive to meet their target revenue.

“The internal controls and sanctions must be tightened across board because officers intentionally override the controls and expose the public funds to misappropriation theft and misuse,” reads the PAC report.

Furthermore, PAC noted with concern the erosion of public funds to corruption and a gap created by the absence of laws that addresses recovery of lost funds.

PAC recommended in the report that the Minister of Justice must ensure “enactment of laws that address asset forfeiture, recovery, restoration of victim and lifestyle audit within 60 days”.

“Moreover we recommend centralised integrated investigative office. Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA), Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) and Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) must also be strengthened with adequate resources e.g. Building of forensic Unit,” reads the PAC report to parliament.

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