Malawi attained self-governance in 1964, but there is always mixed reactions whether the country has really achieved what she had wanted when fighting for independence.
Having been born in post-independence era and read the history of this beautiful nation, I realised that Malawi has achieved great things. But I also realised that Malawi can achieve much more if all Malawians borrow a leaf from the freedom fighters.
The freedom fighters of this land fought for what is being enjoyed today by even giving the last drops of their blood. They fought not out of greed but under the banner of patriotism. They made sure they chased the monster of colonialism into the cave.
Today, some Malawians choose to remain mute or act as hypocrites. They speak intelligibly but they cannot stand to shed even a single drop of sweat for this nation.
Let us take the issue of tax for example. It has been a tradition that donors have been supporting us in our developmental agenda since independence. Today signs of donor fatigue are evident mainly due to the economic meltdown and this has not only affected Malawi but many developing nations.
Pessimists feel that without donors Malawi is a ‘dead nation’ but I beg to differ! We have resources within the country and ability to uplift our nation. One way we can make our country vibrant without donors is through paying our taxes.
Some Malawians are paying their fair share of taxes while many others do not. In many scenarios this is the group that acts in a hypocritical way by shouting their voices hoarse in demanding effective public services, good hospitals, handsome salaries for the civil service and beautiful roads while evading payment of taxes.
If Malawi has to go on without donors then these acts of hypocrisy must stop and payment of due tax must be the tradition. We need not only to pay our share of taxes but we must as well support Government efforts in improving tax administration in Malawi.
To ensure that this is a fair game, a smart means of collecting Value Added Tax (VAT) is now in use and what is required of everyone is to always demand receipts after every purchase of taxable goods or services.
In the quest to maximise tax collection, the empowered Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) has now computerised the collection of VAT through the Electronic Fiscal Devices (EFD).
These machines are installed in all VAT registered businesses to curb non-remittance of VAT to MRA as sales transactions are now monitored electronically.
This development means that when a consumer pays for a product the EFD is promptly registering it and transmitting details of all the sales to MRA servers hence providing evidence of sales transactions in a technically-easy and undisputed way.
Many countries embarked on this system to increase revenue collection and it is an easy way of tracking VAT collections. Tanzania realised an extra Tsh1 086 374 million of revenues in the 2011/2012 financial year after the introduction of the fiscal devices.
After a thorough research in Malawi, MRA observed that some businesses were compliant when paying VAT while many others were not.
In order to level the playing field, the Government of Malawi amended the VAT law in 2011 to introduce the fiscal devices. These gadgets are mandatory by law.
Already there has been reluctance by some dishonest businesses who know that their crookedness, when it comes to remitting VAT, will easily be exposed because of the EFD. With the advanced technology, the Authority will easily notice who are underpaying VAT and implement instant corrective measures.
These unpatriotic citizens are giving excuses and false claims about the system so that they continue to evade VAT. They concoct piles of lies to coax consumers not to demand receipts by claiming that the price will be lower. In many cases, they are still issuing manual receipts and yet they are VAT registered and have a running EFD.
All this gives a false impression that their malpractices are being shielded and that no evidence of transaction will be found.
Capturing of items sold and printing of fiscal receipts is of great value to consumers and the issuance is easy. Electronic tax registrar or even electronic fiscal printer can print fiscal receipt for the customer and he can also print copies of the same receipts for the business records.
The device also stores information about all transactions from where a VAT operator can assess and even print for his own use at any time he wishes.
Our fallen heroes fought against colonialism, today we need to fight tax evasion. The EFDs are there to chase the new beast to the cave, to see to it that our taxes are remitted to the public pulse.
As free Malawians, let us respect the fallen heroes who had wanted this nation a better place for us all in their patriotism. One way of showing respect is by paying our fair share of taxes. Selfishness and greed won’t take us anywhere.
We do not have another Malawi, we belong to this land. Remember, the more people evade tax, the more we are throwing our nation into the dungeon which is suicidal. Let us all fight against tax evasion. n
*Donasius Pathera is a social analyst writing in his own capacity.