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European and Lesotho tax experts met for a week-long seminar from 22 to 26 July 2019 to explore ways of updating and beefing up mining tax law in the mountainous southern African Kingdom. The sessions were held at the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) Training Centre in Maseru, the country's capital, and they were facilitated by the European Union Delegation (EU) in Lesotho.
Three European experts, Dr André Nsabimana (Belgium), Dr Manfred Elmecker (Austria) and Giammarco Cottani (Italy) led technical workshops with 30 Lesotho tax specialists from the Kingdom's Ministry of Mining, the Ministry of Finance and the LRA.
The workshops were part of European Commission's Technical Assistance and Information Exchange Program (TAIEX).
Mining taxation is a natural area of collaboration
"Diamonds comprise over 90% of the exports (in value) to the EU. This makes mining taxation a natural area for collaboration with the Lesotho", said EU Ambassador Christian Manahl to Lesotho when he met with the participants at the Centre.
The Ambassador went on to explain that the Kingdom of Lesotho had identified a need for a review of the policy and legislation of its mining industry. A consolidated National Mining Bill has already been drafted. "This expert mission brings together Lesotho's tax experts and their colleagues from European countries to assess the present amendment Bill and identify the specific needs of Lesotho's mining sector", he continued.
LRA Commissioner Thabo Khasipe added that "The Authority undertook to review the Income Tax Law, and other laws, because in its current form, the Bill could benefit from enhancements to ensure a more robust mining taxation regime". Mr Khasipe continued, "We hope to improve compliance of specialized sectors including the mining sector and these sessions have assisted us in determining the steps to take for drafting an updated Bill."
Bridging a gap
"These sessions were helpful", said 'Makati Mochaba, an auditor at the LRA. With her colleague Rebecca Mpopo nodding in agreement, she explained, "We discussed many issues such as transfer pricing, tax audits and international taxation". Mpopo, who is also an auditor with the LRA, added, "We were also able to meet with our colleagues from the relevant ministries and elsewhere, and learn from their contexts".
The two emphasised the importance of collaboration in the formation of mining tax law and said that the TAIEX mission was able to bridge an important gap. "We were working in silos before and not sharing information with each other. Taxation issues are very complex, especially when it comes to cross border transactions. They require comprehensive tax regimes and for all the stakeholders to work together", Mochaba said.
Mpopo added, "Even though we covered a lot of ground this week, more work still needs to be done. We hope for more meetings in the future. One week is too short!"
Dr André Nsabimana is a Senior Expert in Tax Administration at the Ministry of Finance in the Government of Belgium. Dr Manfred Elmecker deals with the Management of Tax and Customs Administration at the Ministry of Finance in Austria. Mr Giammarco Cottani is the Head of Transfer Pricing and International Tax Practice at L&P Ludovici Piccone & Partners.