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TAX STAMPS TO PROTECT CONSUMERS, HOME INDUSTRY – MRA

The Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) says it will soon roll out  Tax Stamps as one of the measures to increase tax revenues and protect consumers and the home industry from the influx of smuggled goods.

MRA’s Head of Corporate Affairs Manager, Steven Kapoloma announced this during a two-day media training underway in Lilongwe.

Kapoloma said there’s a high potential to increase tax revenues, however, other machinations by traders of using unchartered routes to bring on the market smuggled goods not only take away from the government the much-needed revenues but also put the lives of people at risk of consuming uncertified products.

“Tax stamps are very important to consumers too. If you are buying Kuche Kuche, glycerine, bottled water, lotions or energy drinks there must be a stamp there showing that you are consuming a good product and a tax-compliant product. So, the introduction of tax stamps on liquors, beer and bottled water will bring the much-needed tax revenue and also level the playing field. This will also help seal most of the revenue loopholes,” said Kapoloma.

The Sale of Goods Act places an obligation on the supplier to engage in fair trade practices and sells goods that comply with Malawi safety standards, however with the influx of uncertified and smuggled products on the market the consumers’ rights and protection of local producers from unfair trade practices is being compromised.

The CIvil cause no. 87 of 2013 between Goodson Thawani and Carlsberg Malawi Limited as held in the Blantyre High Court cements the notion that consumers need protection from being offered substandard products.

One of the economic commentators, Marvin Banda from Pentecostal Life University, applauded the MRA for considering introducing Tax Stamps.

Malvin S. Banda, economic commentator – Pentecostal Life University

“Introducing Tax Stamps on beers, liquors etc is a very good idea which will aid the tax system reforms Malawi is undertaking as part of the Washington Consensus’ conditions. MRA needs to publish a simulation that will convince the people that this is good for them otherwise compliance will be difficult.MRA needs to find a way of dealing with the black market for these smuggled goods and how will MRA deal with the problem of using unchartered routes? What is also key is to bolster the home industry to produce more goods that will take out the smuggled goods especially when consumers buy them at a cheaper price,” said Banda.

In one of the presentations one of the facilitators, Wadza Ottomani said MRA is implementing reforms to be market-responsive and align itself with best practices technologically. Msonkho Online, the use of drones to detect smugglers and more continuous engagement with the market have been singled out to be part of the strategies to change perceptions on tax and maximise compliance.

The training delved into areas such as Block Management Systems, customs enforcement, Ethics and Integrity in MRA, ASYCUDA upgrade and MRA4Change among others.

Martha Chikoti a scribe with Malawi 24 publication said the training was an eye-opener.
“Reporting on tax issues is no child’s play. We deal with complex issues and figures that need to be done meticulously. Hence this training will enhance our understanding of these complex issues,” said Chikoti.

The training has drawn participants from various media houses in the central region.

Reported by McDonald Chiwayula.
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