Mzuzu, January 19, 2020: Government has called on Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) to resolve concerns by indigenous business community saying it will not allow the body to victimize tax payers.
Minister of Health and Population, Jappie Mhango made the remarks at Grand Palace Hotel in Mzuzu Saturday, where in company of other three ministers, he met concerned business persons from the Northern Region.
About a week ago, the business community shut down MRA offices in Mzuzu on exorbitant taxes grounds, and held a violent protest in Chitipa in attempt to close Mbilima Border Post, demanding good road network to Tanzania.
During the meeting the vendors reiterated the challenges and further blamed MRA for not providing information and failing to consult people, citing introduction of carbon tax as an example of issues that took citizens by surprise.
“We don’t even know how MRA does its assessments to come with a tax. The only thing we hear is them demanding tax and some officers do not even issue receipts,” said the group’s secretary, Mzondi Mkandawire, who bemoaned rampant corruption by MRA staff.
Chairperson from Mzimba Market, Humphrey Munthali said Asians in Lilongwe issue receipts indicating lower cost of goods bought on wholesale a development he said affects tax remittance and puts both government and the vendor in loss.
“For instance if I buy goods worth K1 million, they would produce a K90 000 receipt and asks you to leave the goods if you deny it.
They assign you a boy to escort you from the shop.
The MRA officials spot the boy and they know from which shop he is coming. Later they go there and collect kickbacks,” he said.
Minister Mhango thanked the business community for accepting the invitation, saying their concerns would best be solved through dialogue.
He called on MRA to work on the challenges raised by the group and further promised that government would leave no stone unturned to ensure indigenous business community benefit from their businesses.
He dismissed claims that the northern region was being sidelined in terms of development saying government is implementing projects worth about K600 billion in agriculture and transport sectors alone, in the region.
Minister of Transport and Public Works, Ralph Joomo said no country can function without citizens as they are a source of revenue through taxes.
On Mbilima Road, the minister said he personally met his counterpart from Tanzania last month and that construction will start soon as a contractor had already done the roads designs.
MRA Head of Corporate Affairs, Steven Kapoloma, said most of the challenges presented by the business community were being resolved.
He cited firing of corrupt officers and redress of sexual abuse by MRA officers in Karonga.
He presented tax collection statistics which showed that out of K78 billion MRA collects in a month, northern region contributes K4 billion.
Vice Chairperson of the Concerned Business Community in Mzuzu, Aram Beza, said he was happy with the outcome of the meeting and asked government to walk the talk.
“History has taught us there things that government has promised and done and there are things that government has promised and not done.
I hope this will be one of the things that government has promised and will be done,” he said.
In reaction to lower proportion of tax collected from the Northern Region, Beza said it was not surprising as most companies in the region have their headquarters in Lilongwe and Blantyre and they pay tax there.
Paramount Chief Kyungu for Karonga and Chitipa and Inkosi ya Makhosi M’mbelwa V from Mzimba hailed government for opening a new window for dialogue with business community.
Also present at the meeting were minister of information, Civic Education and Communications Technology, Mark Botomani, Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Vuwa Kaunda and Senior Chief Kameme from Chitipa.
Reported by Zenak Matekenya, Malawi News Agency.