Government has closed nine shops belonging to Asians in Mzuzu for either operating illegally or failing to lower their prices after government removed exercise duty on some products in the 2012 to 2013 fiscal year.
Minister of Industry and Trade, John Bande, confirmed the closure saying many of the affected shops are those that sell second hand clothes popularly known as Kaunjika.
One shop, which sells Kaunjika, was spared after the owner immediately slashed the prices in the presence of the minister and customers.
While the minister appreciated his gesture, he then ordered him to get a valid license as soon as possible.
Bande said the fact that some shop owners stopped renewing their business licenses as far back as 2008 is an indication of laziness of officers in the ministry.
“Somebody did not do his or her job well and he or she will be held accountable and responsible,” said the minister.
“ We are going to deploy Inspectors countrywide to check on each and every shop so that we ensure that all shops are operating within the law and also recover the revenue due to government,” said Bande.
He said for the deviant shop owners to resume their business they will have to pay arrears apart from acquiring new licenses.
“I am going to overhaul the ministry so that we have efficiency and government does continue to lose the much needed revenue,” Bande said.
The minister said the problem of shops operating illegally is nationwide saying government is losing in the region of plus or minus MK300 million per year in fees.
Shop owners are supposed to pay MK60,000 per year for their business license and the Minister said Malawi has about 5,000 registered shops.
“Some had literally no documentation and yet they were doing business. Others stopped renewing their licenses,” he said.