Public tax collector Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) says it has recovered duty amounting to K775.5 million from 252 vehicles seized by customs since July last year.
MRA made the disclosure when it appeared before Parliament’s Committee on Tourism and Trade alongside officials from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism, Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) and the Competition and Fair Trading Commission.
Briefing committee members during a round-table discussion on smuggling following complaints from some companies in the country, MRA head of corporate affairs Steve Kapoloma said smuggling remains a challenge in the country due to porous borders.
He said: “In the current fiscal year, we have managed to recover K775 504 495.88 on seized vehicles which are commonly smuggled through Southern and Central Region borders.”
Committee chairperson Willard Gwengwe told the officials that there were some companies which complained to their committee on unfair trade and how smuggling is affecting their businesses.
For instance, Castel Limited is reported to have complained of how a
Mozambican fizzy drink Frozy is affecting their market; hence, asking for removal of duty on their products.
Said Gwengwe: “Last year, we received a lot of complaints from a lot of companies, especially from the private sector, saying their businesses are affected by the influx of smuggled goods which come cheap yet the locals pay a lot of duty and wanted to be exempted.”
But MRA dismissed the complaint by Castel, formerly Carlsberg Malawi Limited, on removing duty on their products because all the raw materials that Castel use are duty-free; hence, no need to remove excise duty.
MRA deputy commissioner general Rosa Mbilizi described as a big joke the proposal or request to remove tax on beverages.
She said: “It is not that we are promoting smuggling, but what Castel is asking is not possible, all raw materials they use are duty free, so we cannot remove that. They have to rework their prices to meet the demand and be at par with competitors.”
MRA reported that Frozy is the most commonly smuggled soft drink in the country. n