Malawi ‘s Betchani Tchereni advises the Administration of Malawi to decrease tax Rates thus the sweeping smuggling of Merchandises
By Abdul Rahman Bangura–
NEW AFRICA BUSINESS NEWS (NABN) Freetown, Sierra Leone– As rampant smuggling of different products threatens to cripple the local manufacturing industry, economics professor at the Polytechinic —a constituent college of the University of Malawi— Betchani Tchereni, has urged government to seriously consider
strong measures that can help to curb the malpractice.
Professor Tchereni at the Polytechnic – a constituent college of the University of Malawi stated: It is when the price of smuggling is meagerer than the cost of bringing goods the right way that people resort to smuggling. There has been a severe surge in the smuggling of items like wheat flour, cooking oil, fizzy drinks and wrappers, passing through Karonga, Mulanje, Ntcheu, Dedza, Thyolo and Mchinji districts.
A modest study demonstrates that flour and cooking oil are the products being smuggled the most due to the introduction of Value Added Tax (VAT) on the two commodities. Nonetheless, Tchereni asserts, the administration must reduce tax rates.
“Government needs to consider broadening the tax base while lowering tax rates. In so doing, people may not be attracted to smuggling. It is when the cost of smuggling is lower than the cost of bringing goods the right way that people resort to smuggling,” dissected Tchereni.
“Smuggling happens mainly because people are trying to avoid what may be deemed as punitive tax rates. This is mostly for a predominantly importing country such as Malawi where government raises a big chunk of its revenue from import taxes because that’s where a huge economic activity is taking place.
“For traders to be competitive, they then try to reduce costs by smuggling so that they can also avoid income tax and VAT when they reach their respective shops.
“As they do so however, they are depriving government revenue which would have been used to develop this country. In short, therefore, smuggling actually delays development and causes government to be under pressure to finance deficits and opens up to substandard commodities to be sold in the country,” Tchereni furthered.
But Operations-In-Charge for Agri Value Chain Limited, Rajneesh Dabral, argues the best strategy to withstand smuggling is to eliminate the VAT on cooking oil and wheat flour.
“We were in this situation before, between 2015 and 2017. The situation was bad as cooking oil manufacturing companies started firing employees as we could not compete with smuggled cooking oil. But all that changed when VAT on cooking oil was removed. Things like tightening security and enhancing border patrols do not work,” sobbed
Public Relations Officer for the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA), Steve Kapoloma, informed the press that the major challenge was that the mules have tattlers who occasionally call MRA to frighten their patrolling operation. Kapoloma stated the talebearers may for example tell MRA to dash to a special street when they want their own truck to pass through another route freely.
He, however, said among many other modalities utilized to deal with the situation, MRA is acquiring drones from South Africa.
“We are in the process of procuring drones with specifications of going 2 Kilometres above the sea level and working within a radius of 10 Kilometres. They will have infrared cameras that can take pictures even at night.
“We hope this will be the most prudent way to beat many of the tricks by the smugglers. Also note that at the moment, the Ministry of Trade, the Malawi Police Service and the Immigration Department are coming together to explore even more ways of dealing with the situation because basically the role of MRA is to collect revenue,” clarified Kapoloma.
For New Africa Business News (NABN) Abdul Rahman Bangura Reports, Africa Correspondent
AFRICA’S MOST READ AND FASTEST GROWING GLOBAL NEWSPAPER – www.newafricabusinessnews.com