Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) has engaged in a series of meetings with chiefs in Mangochi to sensitise them to the importance of paying taxes and dangers of smuggling of goods.
Mangochi, which contributes about K116 million in customs and domestic tax to the tax buffer every month, has all along been regarded as a tax haven as most vehicle owners do not pay duty and most of the goods are smuggled, resulting in their prices being lower than the actual market value.
The district has many people that trek to South Africa to earn a living.
Thus far, MRA officials have engaged chiefs in the areas of Senior Chiefs Katuli, Jalasi and Mponda to maximise revenue collection in the district.
In an interview after meeting chiefs at Senior Chief Mponda Headquarters on Friday, MRA head of corporate affairs Steve Kapoloma said the tax collector has been struggling with people who smuggle goods and non-registration of companies for purposes of taxes.
“Mangochi is also one of the widest districts in the country to the extent that unscrupulous importers are bringing in goods using uncharted routes. So, by partnering with chiefs, we think we will be able to arrest the problem,” he said.
Kapoloma said the chiefs have pledged to report to MRA officials any smuggler in their areas, observing that the leaders play a critical role as they stay with the people.
He said since the meetings with the chiefs started, they have noted progress as local leaders are now reporting suspected smugglers to their officials in the district.
The meeting attracted about 100 chiefs, who later formed committees to share information.
A representative of Senior Chief Mponda, village head Sani Iman, said the interaction with MRA officials was worthwhile.
“We know that most of the businesspeople in the district don’t pay taxes, and we learnt that this is counterproductive to development.
“We will go back to our subjects and sensitise them to the importance of paying taxes and also the dangers of smuggling and buying smuggled goods,” he said.
Iman said they plan to form village committees through which they can interact with their subjects to tell them the importance of taxes to national development.
His colleague, group village head Chingomanje, said they learnt through the meeting that the honoraria they receive every month is generated from taxes.
In the proposed 2019/20 National Budget, MRA has been given a target of K1.3 trillion, a rise from just below K1 trillion the previous fiscal year.