Malawi Gov’t keen to promote use of smartphones, internet – Kazako

Information and Digitization Minister, Gospel Kazako, has said it is government’s wish to make sure that more people in the country use smartphones and the internet at lower costs without, at the same time, crippling tax revenue on the same.

Malawians presently pay exorbitantly to access the internet as compared to their neighbours such as Zambia and Tanzania as they have to pay up to 44 percent for the service, to ‘Freedom on The Net’, a 2018 report.

Minister of Information Gospel Kazako

According to the report, 17.5 percent is for VAT on mobile phones and services, 16.5 percent is for VAT on Internet services, and an additional  10 percent is for excise duty on mobile phone text messages and internet data transfers introduced on 2015.

But Kazako said, at a government-private sector interface for players in the ICT sector held in the commercial capital Blantyre and organized by the ICT Association of Malawi (Ictam), that  his ministry was engaging with the Ministry of Finance on possibilities to see if the taxes could be revised so that internet costs can be reduced in the country.

He said, as government, they know that if they are to show commitment to reducing internet costs Malawians need to see that they are creating an environment where everyone has a conducive environment for operations.

He said: “Creation of an e-economy, for example, cannot be achieved if gadgets are not available or if a few people are using these technologies.

“I have been engaging my colleague, the honourable Minister of Finance, to see how we can look at the taxes without compromising revenue let alone economic affairs where we have to review certain things that will promote the use of smartphones and the internet.”

According to Ictam president, Bram Fudzulani, they have formed a taskforce that will play a voluntary advisory role to the ministry on what they think can be the best practices to be adopted on the matter.

“So, whatever is happening in the private sector, we will have to take it to the government with one voice,” Fudzulani said.

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