The Malawi government dispatched four senior cabinet ministers to the Northern region who had a roundtable dialogue meeting with businesses from Chitipa, Karonga, Rumphi, Mzimba, Nkhatabay and Mzuzu City.
The discussions took place on Saturday in Mzuzu revolving around several petitions that the businesses submitted to the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) in Chitipa, Karonga and Mzuzu.
The ministers were led by Jappie Mhango Minister of Health and Population and the three others were Minister of Transport and Public Works Ralph Jooma, Minister of Information and Communications Technology Mark Botomani and Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development Symon Vuwa Kaunda.
Leading the onslaught of their distress, interim secretary for Concerned Businesspersons in the North Mzondi Mkandawire said despite getting various clarification and information about MRA operations most of their grievances were not addressed.
“MRA responded to our petitions that we gave them in Mzuzu, Karonga and Chitipa. We are also in Malawi and we pay taxes. But they could not respond to us on issues of businesses that we need like government contracts as locals, employment of our youths in the region, completion of current road projects and the most contentious Chitipa-Mbirima road which in a very bad state as we speak,” said Mkandawire.
Mhango underlined that government projects are not done to favour any region as some people perceive. He allowed MRA Head of Corporate Affairs Steven Kapoloma to make a presentation of taxes collected per month that showed that on average MRA collects K78 billion and K4 billion or 5 percent is collected in the Northern Region.
The ministers gave an outline of government projects being undertaken in the region ranging from road construction projects, agriculture, irrigation and telecoms infrastructure development projects that are worth over K800 billion.
Jooma said all projects that government started will be completed and that works will soon start to reconstruct the M1 road from Jenda to Chiweta. He said already feasibility studies were done on the Chitipa-Mbirima road to upgrade it to a bitumen road.
This was concurred by Roads Authority Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel Matapa who said a contractor BBM Infratech is the one doing some works for the upgrade.
Botomani said most information on the projects is accessible from Malawi government website for all to see. He said the Karonga-Songwe and Mzuzu-Nkhatabay roads are already complete in addition to the newly completed Mzimba water supply system.
“Government is implementing water supply projects in Karonga, Nkhatabay, Mzuzu City, Ekwendeni. We talk of Kasama Technical College, Ngara Community Technical College, Chonanga and Mphinga Irrigation Schemes Rehabilitation, Rumphi Teachers College all the way to Chitipa-Nthalire-Rumphi Road via Nyika National Park some of these are already operational be assured that the Malawi government is for all Malawians,” Botomani said.
Some of the businesses expressed worry on the level of revenue that the region is contributing and have since offered to help tip government where else to collect revenue from with trust that they be given contracts to employ more Malawians.
Inkosi Ya Makosi Mbelwa, Paramount Chief Kyungu and Senior Chief Kameme were present throughout the meeting and they commended the initiative by businesses to dialogue with the relevant government authorities and the ministers for humbling themselves to listen to peoples concerns. They all appealed for love, patriotism and respect among all Malawians.