At this year’s Indigenous Customs Clearing and Forwarding Agents (ICCAFA) annual general meeting A held in Mangochi on Saturday, it was revealed that some Chinese and Indians are doing clearing business as a front for their fellow nationals.
According to the revelations, these unscrupulous Chinese and Indian nationals approach the registered indigenous agents, claiming they have goods that needs to be cleared with Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA).
“But once the agents have completed all the paper work, then the Chinese and the Indian nationals confiscate the papers and visit MRA themselves to pay all requirements,” said ICCAFA president Kumbuka Kaluwa, who presented this concern at the AGM.
“What we have discovered is that these Chinese and the Indians act on behalf of their fellow nationals.
“They come into the country pretending to be investors but most of them are invited and hosted by some of their fellow nationals and are used to run their business errands.”
Kaluwa said the AGM observed that some of the indigenous clearing agents are usually not aware that they are just being used as a front while others connive with them.
“This is totally unacceptable because they are taking away our business since some of the agents who are in the know charge less for their work.
“If they want to do this type of business, they need to meet all the requirements set by government through MRA and not the way they are doing this business.”
Kaluwa explained that for one to join this industry, MRA Commissioner General advertises for application for new registration whenever it is necessary and just recently the regulator flighted a press release in the newspapers asking all clearing and forwarding agents that their licences for the year beginning 1st January, 2020 are due for renewal.
The advert said licences will only be issued upon fulfillment of requirements as stipulated under Regulation 129 of the Customs & Excise Act as follows:
*The General Customs Agent must have demonstrated the ability to process not less than an average of 20 declarations per month;
*Private Customs Agents must have made payment of duties of not less than K50 million over the period of 12 months;
*The Customs Agent must have resources to operate a Remote Direct Trader input;
*Should have maintained good compliance record relating to tax laws and regulations;
*Not made transaction errors of more than 30% that affected or would have affected the amount of revenue collected, and;
*Should pay a non-refundable application fee of K10,000.
For the application, MRA asks that all applications should be accompanied by a valid Tax Clearance Certificate (TCC); valid certificate of registration or incorporation and names of shareholders of the company, if any.
It also asks for three CVs of key personnel and must have, at least, three years of experience in the clearing industry and a clearing certificate (shipping) obtained from from a recognised institution.
“Those clearing and forwarding agents with outstanding declarations and/or unacquiree T1s will have their licences withheld until all outstanding issues are resolved,” said the statement signed by Tom Malata, the Commissioner General.
Kaluwa said it’s unfortunate that some agents allow to be used this way because for them to be given licenses, they go through strenuous vetting process and oral interviews to pass in order to qualify to start doing this business.
He said they discovered this trend being practised by the Chinese and Indians about three years ago.
On measures they have taken to stop this malpractice, Kaluwa said so far they have been very diplomatic but MRA is aware of what is happening since the issues was brought to the fore at last year’s last AGM, which MRA was represented by Steve Kapoloma.
“MRA is aware because these people are given access as if they are clearing agents. They are given officers to go and offload goods from containers.
“We have also informed the Ministry of Labour and at this year’s AGM we have resolved that anyone found with clearing papers must be repatriated back to their country without delay because we know their Temporary Employment Permit does not give them a right to operate clearing agency.
“Any delays in repatriation will lead to industrial action,” Kaluwa said.
Amongst other topics covered at the AGM included miscalculation penalties, update on shipping lines case, intentions of ICCAFA joining Malawi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, MRA’s sudden change of offloading procedures and ICCAFA consortium transit bond.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :