Public tax collector, the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA), has returned all vehicles it seized from Siku Transport Limited in Blantyre following a court order to do so, The Nation has learnt.
On August 19 2013, MRA seized at least 97 vehicles over alleged unpaid withholding tax and value added tax (VAT) estimated at K856 million (about $2.1m).
But lawyers representing Siku Transport, in response to a questionnaire this week, said the matter is now before the Blantyre Resident Magistrate’s Court and they have since applied to the court to interpret some provisions in the VAT Act.
In August this year, the High Court’s Commercial Division in Blantyre had thrown out an application by Siku Transport to stop MRA from enforcing payment of the K856 million, directing the applicant to file an appeal against MRA commissioner general’s decision before a magistrate court.
The High Court also discharged an order it granted allowing a judicial review of the matter on the basis that the order was erroneously obtained.
Kingsley Mapemba, one of the lawyers representing Siku Transport, said in the written response to the questionnaire that the interpretation they are seeking is in as far as the charge on transportation of most goods and in particular import of fertiliser into Malawi was made.
Said Mapemba: “MRA is charging the standard rate of 16.5 percent on the same whilst all international transporters in Malawi including Siku are charging such services at zero as prescribed by the VAT Act.
“The assessment in dispute herein is premised on the same and not that Siku evaded any tax or failed to remit any as the media has recently reported. In fact MRA is charging Siku for failure to charge and collect VAT on such services from its clients who import goods into Malawi.”
The lawyer said the vehicles have been returned to Siku and there is a court order to that effect.
The matter, he said, is yet to be set down for hearing of the application.
According to court documents, the company complains that MRA’s action, which also garnished the company’s bank accounts, was crippling its operations.
Siku Transport argues that MRA’s action is unreasonable, unethical and unprofessional and not befitting a revenue authority.