Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) has said while the general business environment remains challenging, lack of adequate incentives, tax reforms and improper handling of export documents are stifling the export business.
MCCCI head of public private dialogue Hope Chavula said this on Thursday in Blantyre through his presentation at the national exporter’s consultative workshop organised by the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA).
He said the country’s vision to promote exports is difficult to realise because of the challenges.
Said Chavula: “Local taxes and lack of reforms create challenges by making export products uncompetitive. Sometimes there are occasions of unnecessary delays by MRA officers at customs depots to certify export documents.
“Other times, such documents disappear because of their improper handling or they have kept them so long. This forces the businesses to go back and restart processing the documents, which is another cost to them.”
He said the country has various initiatives aimed at promoting export trade, but sometimes it is because of the way these initiatives are operationalised; hence, not beneficial to the country.
“This is why, as a country, we have a wide trade deficit because we have even failed to diversify and promote value addition,” said Chavula.
In his remarks, Clearing and Forwarding Agents Association of Malawi (Cofam) president Everson Bandawe said persistent network problems and removal of seals in some international borders are delaying delivery of goods in export markets which also attracts penalties.
“There is need to look seriously at lasting solutions to network glitches which we have been complaining about for over two years now. There are even days we go without network and we fail to process declarations.
“Again, we have been having cases where some revenue authorities at Zobue in Mozambique remove seals and we have containers arriving with wrong seals which could result in our exports being shunned. We have had such incidences in products such as tobacco, tea and peas, among others,” he said.
In response to the concerns, MRA head of corporate affairs Steven Kapoloma said they have laid down a robust network and partnered with other revenue administrators in the region to address these challenges.
“However we need to recognise that there are some factors that impact Internet provision in Malawi that is outside our jurisdiction such as theft and power outages.
“With regard to our relationship with other customs administrations, we have signed agreements with Mozambique, South Africa and we are also in good partnership with Kenya Revenue Authority to ensure that we provide efficient services to our exporters,” he said.
Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism regional trade officer for the South, Charles Chavula, said the ministry will continue to engage businesses on how to deal with the challenges. n