The public tax collector, Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) Deputy Commissioner General, Roza Mbilizi, is accused of receiving hefty sums of money from one of the companies bidding to supply the Integrated Tax Administration System (iTAS) to MRA which is aimed at streamlining and simplifying tax collection in order to maximize revenue collection.
According to Nyasa Times sources at MRA, bids were recently invited from local and international firms to provide iTAS and the MRA Internal Procurement Committee (IPC) has finally shortlisted five companies, all-foreign-based, for final assessment and appointment of the successful bidder.
A member of the MRA IPC has revealed that the ‘successful bidder’ is a foregone conclusion because the deputy CG, Mbilizi’s conduct during the assessment meetings ahead of the identification of the successful bidder smells fishy.
According to the source, Mbilizi is clearly in favour of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) of India, currently embroiled in legal suits in many countries, including in the US and Kenya for corruption and other shady deals.
The other bidders include Data Torque that operate in Australia and New Zealand, Sigtas, CRC Sogema of Canada, Intrasoft of Luxembourg and Crown Agents of the United Kingdom.
“From an internally instituted investigation, it is understood the deputy CG may have pocketed around US$150,000 (about K75 million) as upfront payment for her to influence the IPC to offer them the over US$10 million (over K5 billion) contract. Upon selection, it has been established, Mbilizi, would get another US$150,000 as final payment,” said the source.
According to the source, another IPC member and MRA Project Manager, Peter Chikabadwa, is also suspected to have pocked close to US$100,000 (about K50 million) as upfront payment from Intrasoft based on the same Mbilizi-Tata theory. This, the source said, was established after an internal investigation was instituted following Chikabadwa’s suspicious conduct in favour of Intrasoft.
“Both officers’ conduct in the matters pertaining to the two respective firms has not been objective hence a silent investigation was necessary,” he claimed, adding that concerns against Tata are extremely grave as they are facing lawsuits in the US and Kenya and that they have not delivered in most African countries they worked in.
In the United States, Tata had been slapped with a lawsuit by Orange County for making “a series of false promises and intentional misrepresentations” during a bidding process for a contract.
In Kenya, a group of taxpayers had petitioned the Anti Corruption Commission in March 2014 to investigate how the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) spent close to 500 million Kenya Shillings “on an online tax collection project that has failed to function properly”, according to the Kenyan Sunday Nation of March 30, 2014.
Tata was managing the project and the petitioners were questioning why KRA were awarding Tata a fresh contract, without any bidding process, when in fact, the earlier project by the same Tata had flopped.
MRA has three revenue divisions of Customs Division (Imports), Customs Division (Exports) and Domestic Taxes Division The Customs Division (Imports) and the Customs Division (Exports) Divisions administer and enforce the Customs and Excise Act. The Domestic Taxes Division Division administers and enforces the Taxation and VAT Acts. The Division collects direct Income Taxes from individuals and corporations. These are in form of Pay As You Earn (PAYE), Provisional Tax, Fringe Benefit Tax and Withholding Tax.
With the donors zipping their aid purse, the DPP led administration will largely rely on MRA for prudent and maximum revenue collection to run the economy, which is already facing difficulties.
MRA public relations office were coy to comment on the matter while Mbilizi and Chikabadwa did not entertain a Nyasa Times reporter to interview them.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :