Three government agencies have teamed up to curb smuggling of vehicles into the country that costs Treasury between K500 million and K1 billion in potential revenue every year.
To curb cases of motor vehicle smuggling, the three agencies—Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA), Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services (DRTSS) and Malawi Police Service (MPS)—on Friday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to facilitate the automation of registration of imported motor vehicles.
The three agencies have been operating independent of each other when registering vehicles, thereby making the process cumbersome for motorists and following up of non-compliant vehicle owners.
Speaking after signing the MoU in Lilongwe on Friday, Secretary to the Treasury Ben Botolo admitted that Malawi is losing billions of kwacha due to motor vehicle smuggling as some vehicle owners have been beating the system by not paying revenue in the absence of systems interface to exchange information among the three agencies.
He said: “Based on the current estimates, we are losing quite a lot because there are vehicles which are still plying on the roads of Malawi but have foreign registration.
“In some cases, they have no registration number so I could say we lose betweeen K500 million and K1 billion through this fraudulent mechanism.”
On his part, MRA commissioner general Tom Malata said with the systems interlink, there will be efficiency in the registration and clearance of vehicles.
“The smuggling of vehicles used to be big, but I can assure you that with this new operation arrangement, smuggling will be arrested. What we have done is to link the systems. So, it will be alerting us.
“We have officers in each institution that will be liaising once they get information and these include International Police [Interpol] MRA and DRTSS,” he said.
In his remarks, DRTSS director Fergus Gondwe, while admitting some instances of corruption at his department during vehicle registration, described the interlinked system as a game-changer.
Deputy Inspector General of Police responsible for administration John Nyondo admitted there is corruption within the police service, but expressed optimism that it will be stamped out using the new system.
“We cannot deny instances of corruption, but now there will be sharing of data within the three agencies involved, it will be easy for us to trace smuggled vehicles. There will be transparency and accountability,” he said. n