Lesotho Should Focus on Jobs, Tax to cut Reliance on Aid, Customs Revenue

Lesotho must create jobs and improve tax collection to cut its dependence on revenue from the Southern African Customs Union and international aid, the country’s finance minister said.

The government of Lesotho, a mountainous enclave of about 2 million people within South Africa, gets 60 percent of its revenue from the five-nation customs union. The union was formed in 1889 between what are now provinces of South Africa and was extended to former British protectorates, including Lesotho, and Namibia in 1910.

“Lesotho needs to be competitive to become a real sovereign state,” Timothy Thahane, the finance minister, said at an event commemorating the centenary of Sacu in Maseru, the country’s capital, today. “Basotho would not have fought for 100 years if they wanted to join South Africa,” he said, using the term for Lesotho nationals.

The country gets income from water exports to South Africa and has for many decades supplied labor to South Africa’s mines. It has some textile factories and produces mohair.

“Our domestic revenue must be greater than our expenditure to survive as a country,” Thahane said. “We need to stop getting crumbs from international donors.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Motheolane Chakela in Maseru via Johannesburg at asguazzin@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net

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