Employers Consultative Association of Malawi (Ecam), an apex body representing employer interests, has asked government to consider reviewing tax and other policy measures in the fight against coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic for business survival.
In a letter signed by Ecam executive director George Khaki and endorsed by chief executive officers for TNM plc, Rab Group of Companies, MyBucks Banking Corporation and Britam Insurance, the body said in the event of a lockdown, government should find ways and means of compensating employees and suspend pay as you earn (Paye) within that period as this reduces the liquidity burden on employers and enable payment of wages.
“We want government to make a waiver on a pro-rata basis to cushion liquidity challenges in the event of a shutdown and to remove VAT on materials that are critical to the prevention and treatment of Covid-19 as this will make them affordable to Malawians,” reads the letter in part.
The letter, addressed to Chief Secretary to Government and Cabinet, secretaries for Labour, Skills and Innovation, Disaster Preparedness and Management, Treasury, Health, Trade and Industry and Malawi Confederation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) chief executive officer, Ecam is also asking government to facilitate the availability of low-cost loans to industries and companies affected by the shutdown.
Reads the letter further: “These loans can be accessed through banks, other money lenders or other facilities with a prescribed cap on interest rates applied to any loans provided with funding that has been made available by Government for this initiative.”
However, Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development spokesperson Davis Sado in an interview on Sunday said Treasury will be making an assessment on the impact of the Covid-19 on the budget which will assist government decide how to address the issues.
Meanwhile, MRA commissioner general Tom Malata said on Friday that while Covid-19 may challenge revenue collections, MRA is working under guiding principles from a committee set aside to deal with the pandemic.
He said MRA is, among others, currently giving special clearance of Covid-19 materials entering the country.
Last week, MCCCI chief executive officer Chancellor Kaferapanjira called for the need for government and stakeholders to engage on how they can work together to curb the threat of Covid-19 and ensure that the pandemic’s impact on businesses and economy is minimised.
Thus far, the virus has rapidly spread globally from Wuhan City in China to Europe the United States of America, and over 44 African countries as of March 26 2020.
Though Malawi still has no confirmed cases, the country remains at risk and measures have been put in place to contain the spread of the infection. The measures include travel limitations, school closure and a ban on meetings of more than 100 people.