Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing minister, Chalane Phori, finally tabled amendments to his controversial wool and mohair regulations but the opposition immediately rejected them.
Mr Phori's original 2018 regulations had banned wool and mohair farmers from selling their produce from outside the country except at the Lesotho Wool Centre (LWC), which is partly owned by Chinese national, Stone Shi and the Lesotho Wool and Mohair Growers Association (LNWMGA).
The farmers had revolted against the regulations and an ad hoc committee was eventually set to probe the issue. It recommended that Mr Phori's 2018 regulations be revisited.
The committee chaired by National Independent Party (NIP) legislator, Kimetso Mathaba found that the 2018 regulations had impoverished thousands of Basotho and called on the government to immediately repeal them.
Mr Phori eventually tabled the new Agricultural Marketing (Wool and Mohair Licensing) (Amendment) regulations 2019 yesterday but the opposition immediately voiced their rejection of the latest changes.
Mr Phori was meant to have submitted the amended regulations on 28 November 2019 but was a no show on the day. His absence had incensed MPs who ended up fighting in parliament on that day. On Tuesday, deputy speaker, Teboho Lehloenya succumbed to the opposition's pressure and ordered that the amended regulations be tabled yesterday.
The revised regulations were then tabled by Mr Phori and will go through the relevant committee before the final review in the house.
However, deputy DC leader Motlantoa Letsosa last night said the revised regulations failed to reflect what parliament had ordered.
"The regulations are not a true reflection of what the parliament wanted as per the demands of the farmers," Mr Letsosa said.
"A few things might have been eased but now they have introduced some ridiculous taxes which are going to depress farmers even more. That is not what parliament nor the farmers want and we are going to challenge them," Mr Letsosa added.
The amended regulations now allow for the exportation of wool and mohair by a broker, trader or the farmers but those intending to export the produce shall first apply for an export licence.
Under the new regulations, the broker is allowed to deduct brokering commission at the rate of four percent, administration costs at 2.5 percent, dipping levy costs at M1 per kilogramme for mohair and M0.38 per kg for wool or as revised from time to time by the minister.
More deductions are allowed for insurance costs at less than one percent or at any rate justified by the broker to the minister, testing costs have been pegged at one percent, in addition to government taxes to be remitted to the relevant authority at legislated rates.
A M2 000 fine or six-months imprisonment will be imposed on persons who contravene the provisions of the regulations.
Licences for shearing sheds, shearing shed complimentary (sic) bulk storage and trading are reserved for Basotho.