AHL Group says it is conducting awareness campaigns to sensitise players in the tobacco industry, particularly growers, about deductions effected on seller’s sheets.
AHL Group corporate affairs manager Mark Ndipita said this last week in response to complaints by tobacco growers on deductions appearing on sellers’ sheets.
“What people should know is that we do a number of deductions on behalf of various institutions such as taxes and for services rendered to tobacco growers by those institutions,” he said.
There has been a widely held belief that deductions appearing on the seller’s sheet for tobacco growers go to the AHL Group.
The sentiments were stengthened last year in a report by Kalondolondo programme which suggested that tobacco growers were not benefitting from their produce because of the deductions.
Ndipita explained that AHL Group’s role in tobacco marketing is to operate a structured, organised and transparent tobacco marketing in Limbe, Lilongwe, Chinkhoma in Kasungu and Mzuzu according to the law.
He said AHL Group makes the deductions on the seller’s sheet on behalf of Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA), Agricultural Research and Extension Trust (Aret), Tobacco Control Commission (TCC), hessian scheme operators, associations such as Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama) and National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi (Nasfam) and transporters.
Ndipita said being at the centre of tobacco sales transactions, AHL Group is well positioned to make deductions on behalf of other stakeholders.
The deductions, according to Ndipita, are three percent of gross proceeds for MRA withholding tax, 0.13 percent of gross proceeds and 0.35 cents per kilogramme (kg) for TCC levy for classification of tobacco into grades, 0.7 cents per kg for associations such as Tama and Nasfam for providing a number of services such as transport brokerage and an AHL commission of 2.5 percent for operating auction floors infrastructure.
He said sometimes farmers also pay 1.95 cents per bale for hessian levy because they need hessian for packaging tobacco into bales and such deductions go to hessian scheme operators such as Tama.
A tobacco farmer from Mzimba, Yotamu Chitaya, said AHL Group could help farmers cart home more from their tobacco sales if it reduced the deductions the group makes on the seller’s sheet.
“What the farmer remains with after the deductions cannot improve livelihoods because it is the same that is used also pay the tenants,” he said.
The tobacco industry supports millions of Malawians directly and indirectly. n