The government of Lesotho has set aside M50 million as a relief fund for rent to assist struggling businesses and Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) is tasked with a responsibility to administer the Rent Relief on behalf of the government.
This was disclosed by the Acting Commissioner General of LRA ‘Mathabo Mokoto who indicated that this came after the government made several pronouncements regarding relief measures intended to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 induced national lockdown which started in March.
“The rent support will cover a period of one month for commercial property tenants with lease agreements between themselves and commercial building owners whose businesses were not operational during the national lockdown,” she said.
Mokoto indicated that the LRA acts as an agent of the government, which remains the sole principal assuming all risks and responsibility for smooth implementation of the initiative. “Any disputes including litigation that may arise during and or after implementation should be directed to the Ministry of Finance for resolution,” she said.
Meanwhile, Bahlakoana Shelile LRA Head Compliance Risk Management and Intelligence stated that businesses that will qualify for the relief are those under residential and commercial who were operational during national lockdown, and are tenants to LNDC, BEDCO, City Councils properties, Government property and any other property owners not in business of renting out commercial building.
“Whilst the rent relief is meant to assist businesses that are struggling as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, not all businesses shall be eligible for the relief. Only businesses which are tax compliant, Small, Medium, and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs), businesses registered with the Ministry of Trade or any competent authority that has sub-lease agreement with property owner not less than three months old and businesses that are up to date with their rental payments shall qualify for the relief,” he said.
Shelile indicated that the requirements for accessing rent relief measures include a registration form accessible at LRA website www.lra.org.ls/forms/registratio%20forms and LRA service centers to be filled by commercial property owners providing details of their property and information related to tenants. The forms are to be submitted to LRA through email email@example.com or to be hand delivered at any LRA service centre, payment requisition form accessible on LRA website and LRA service centre to be filled by tenants to initiate payment.
“Upon receipt of the payment requisition form from the tenant, the LRA will issue receipt acknowledgement through an email and or SMS within two working days, if all requirements of a claim are met, payment will be made within seven working days and a proof of payment will be sent to both a tenant and a property owner and payments will be prioritized in order of receipt of payment requisition form; forms received first will be paid out first,” Shelile explained.
Shelile concluded by saying since COVID-19 still poses a serious threat, tenants and property owners are urged to avoid physical contact at all costs but rather to contact LRA through website, call centers52215555 and 22235555 and email.