Malawi MPs’ anger at tax on SMS, per-gigabyte internet

The new tax on internet data traffic and phone text messages (SMS has come under fire from Members of Parliament who have said it’s retrogressive during their debates on the 2015/16 national budget in the capital Lilongwe.TAX NET

Shanil: Don't tax SMS

Shanil: Don’t tax SMS

Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe announced the new tax measure in his budget statement.

Karonga South MP Malani Mtonga ( Peoples Party) said in Parliament that it is “saddening to note” that the excise duty on text messages and data on mobile telephones is targeting the youth of who are about 70 per cent of Malawi population and most of them, are unemployed.

“We feel this is a misplaced measure,” said Mtonga, a youthful politician himself.

Minister of Information Kondwani Nankhumwa has also reportedly cautioned Finance Minister that internet levy would negatively defeat the drive of making telecommunications services affordable.

And Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) has since written operators who increased the tariffs to suspend the increase, saying the new tax is supposed to be implemented by July 1 2015 after all necessary bills are passed (as they are or after some amendments) in the National Assembly.

Commenting on that, Mtonga wondered whether there was consultation on the budget, “because today the Minister of Finance cannot make this statement and tomorrow we hear there is a letter from the Minister of Information to the Minister of Finance and the other day we hear MACRA is saying this and the next day we hear MRA saying do not take the instruction on tax. I feel there was no proper consultation or maybe something is wrong.”

Also contributing on the issue, former first lady and MP for Balaka West (independent), Shanil Dzimbiri, while acknowledging that government removed custom duties from cell phone handsets with good intentions for their affordability, expressed sadness that the utilization of such handsets will be hindered by the newly introduced tax on SMS and mobile data.

“Many citizens cannot afford airtime for communication and they rely on short message service. It is a huge disservice to make such a mostly used service for many poor people to become costly than the actual purchasing of handsets,” said Dzimbiri.

“Similarly, the extension of tax on transferable data goes against the government’s own initiative of making internet a social tool for development in both rural and urban context. It is also against the global movement where many countries are making internet cheaper and largely free,” she added.

Dzimbiri said SMS and internet tax “surely needs to be reversed”, saying it denies people from using the handsets that they have already purchased for communication.

“Communication and information nowadays are critical ingredients for a functional democracy,” she pointed out.

Malawians pay the highest tariffs to access communication services in the region, according to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) December 2014 report.

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17 thoughts on “Malawi MPs’ anger at tax on SMS, per-gigabyte internet”

  1. Chavula says:

    This is daylight robbery of government of the day

  2. Kandapako says:

    Why is it that issues of taxation in any budget proposal are immediately implemented effective the day of budget proposal presentation before any debate? Why then does parliament debate such issues that are already implemented? I thought that the essence of parliament debating such was to approve or not. School me please.

  3. Lickie says:

    Mawa timva kuti tax yalowa m’matchalitchi ndi mmizikiti. Kaya Ine wanga uno wa ku Joni ikakhala Xeno inatha. Kkkkkkkk

  4. JJB says:

    Just shows how dull Malawians are, this thing was talked about at length on this very page, and to see some people talking as if it is something that has just happened, shows kusowa zochita.



  6. Iz nde zachamba..ngat kopezela Ndalama kwakuxowani oxangovomelera gem yolima chamba ija bwanj??

  7. MJ says:

    If we cn hv pipo like shanil n mtonga,our country cn b a every good place to live in Gvt must reverse that stupid tax.

  8. I think the idea of putting tax on internet and SMS has to be reversed because it will oppress people living in the villages. This is because most people in the village are poor. If tax will be implemented on internet and SMS, then communication will be efficient to those who are rich but inefficient to those who are poor. Lets think of the village people.

  9. matutu says:

    Let us civil people join the call by the 2 mps. To parliamentarians, if such taxes are a result of the zero sid budget, the answer is simple. We in MW, especially leaders feel we can become economically independent overnight. We can’t. We still need dome aid. Even super power countries need some. We need to grow into economic independence. Let’s face it, even if we want, can we revolve into EI, even if we want, we can’t. So leaders be honest with yourself we need policies that are retrogressive for s very young democracy like ours.

  10. ineyo says:

    The man is old he has to go. Surely, it is the youths who will suffer here and to make matters worse most youths are unemployed. Please, mr misters first find jobs for these youths or maybe you will later introduce unemployment allowance to aid this move? Otherwise, stay quite on this.

  11. alizi says:

    Koma yaaaah mpaka net and sms tax APM zikuvuta implement other measures wakulu wawa

  12. CHEJALI says:

    Thanks dzimbili osati ma MP ena dzangoti dwiiiiii mu pariament ngati agalu ogona ndi njala

  13. Sapitwa says:

    Did u research to find what type of messages are texted mostly? It is of the view that most of these are for chatting!
    Did you check to find what most of the youth in a Malawi use internete for? You will find that it is mostly not for educational purposes. Azikalephera kupanga kafukufuku ma Professor a pa UNIMA ndiye akati mwana wa sukulu! Kkkkkkk!
    Go Go Government apa ndiye peni peni from where to reap too much revenue!

  14. Wayiona Bangwe says:

    So Proud Of The Two Law Makers Please Make The Govt See Sense In What U Have Contributed To The August House

  15. john says:

    Proud of what the two MPS said

  16. Mr Goodall, do not misuse MPs

Comments are closed.