- Lesotho's minister of finance, is expected to make a ground-breaking statement in parliament in few weeks on how the country will cope with the declining regional customs revenues as well as the severe impacts of the economic meltdown.
Addressing the media in Maseru today, Timothy Thahane said while the smaller Southern African Customs Union (SACU) members have to grapple with the economic impacts on the revenues, they also have to pay back to the pool after making higher estimates in the current financial year.
"I cannot as of now speak of the figures involved, but it is only after our meeting as trade and finance ministers in October that I can put some figures," he said.
The Lesotho minister also said he will be having more figures at hand after attending both the IMF and World Bank meetings, also next month.
Lesotho is one of the smaller Southern African economies that will be hard hit but the declining SACU revenues.
With its budget having been over 70 percent dependant on the customs union fetches, the country has already started working out modalities and alternatives to finance its budget.
The country has recently revamped its diamond mining which was unfortunately hits by the global price cut, while the garment manufacturing sector has been the main economic drive in the past decade. Lesotho also exports water to the neighbouring South Africa.
While Mr Thahane is optimistic of the new customs system coming into place, he however said the 2010 target for the larger SACU-SADC customs union was not reachable, saying the countries have agreed, at their recent meeting in Swaziland, on rather expanding and consolidating the regional free trade area.
"The 2010 SADC customs union target cannot be met, but as countries we agreed on promoting the FTA and expanding to other regions on the continent," he said, adding that the new target would depend on the groundwork by countries.
Mr Thahane said while he believed that the SACU members are well ahead of other member states in the new SACU-SADC arrangement, there were however a lot of building blocks to be secured before declaring the new regional customs union.
He pointed at amongst others the agriculture and transport commissions as well as the establishment of the trade tarrif board as some of the areas which needed to be attended with speed.
The SACU, which will be 100 years old next years, is the oldest customs union which comprise Lesotho, Botswana, Swaziland, South Africa and Namibia. Under the new regional arrangement, the original SACU members are joined by Angola and Mozambique with Tanzania having moved back to the East Africa bloc.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.