Khwauli moves motion to probe MRA ‘trickery’ on ZDB

Alliance for Democracy (Aford) MP for Karonga Nyungwe, Khwauli Msiska, on Thursday a day reserved for private members motion in parliament, moved a motion to launch full investigations into allegations that Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) borrowed money from commercial banks to paint a rosy picture in the infamous Zero-Deficit budget.

George Mnesa the Balaka South lawmaker, who is also president of Mafunde party, revealed in the House that MRA borrowed K15 billion from commercial banks which it reported as revenue.

The banks are NBS Bank, INDEBANK, Malawi Savings Bank, National Bank of Malawi and Standard Bank.

Msiska: Lets get to the bottom of the matter

Khwauli moved the motion to investigate the allegation and summon commercial bank bosses to testify.

But using their strengths in numbers, the government side defeated the motion to investigate the allegations.

“This motion should be thrown out. It is full of malice and a classic case of kangaroo court. Let the MP just bring evidence in this Parliament,” Lipenga said.

Leader of House George Chaponda, government chief whip Simon Vuwa Kaunda and other MPs proceeded to shoot it down saying it was misplaced.

“This motion is full of character assassination and malice and can never be proven in this House. Let’s start by asking Balaka South MP to parade evidence before it can go to a committee,” Kaunda said.

But MP for Lilongwe Mapuyu South Joseph Njobvuyalema wondered why the motion was causing discomfort on the government side.

“I would have thought the Minister of Finance himself would call for investigations into this matter but you are all saying it’s not necessary. It shows you are hiding something,” Njobvuyalema said.

Mnesa told parliament that he had material objective evidence that MRA borrowed K15 billion from commercial banks to spice up revenue collection figures for the government.

However, MRA issued a statement dismissing the allegation.

MRA Commissioner General Lloyd Muhara said the figures reported in Parliament by Minister of Finance Ken Lipenga reflect the actual performance of the tax collecting body for the first half of the financial year.

“These figures can be verified from the Ministry of Finance and they will be subject to audit,” he said.

Muhara explained that taxpayers are currently paying taxes through Malawi Savings Bank, National Bank of Malawi, Standard Bank, and NBS Bank as part of tax reform programme being implemented by the authority.

“The main objective of this reform is to control pilferage of collected revenues so as to improve revenue management and accountability,” said Muhara.

He explained that branches of the banks are located in all the MRA stations for purposes of receipting tax revenues and that the money collected belongs to the government.

In the mid-year budget statement, Lipenga said domestic revenue amounted to about K120 billion, against the midyear target of about K115 billion.

Lipenga also said suggesting that the numbers in his budget were doctored was “an insult to the integrity of these hard working and women in public service.”

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