Malawi Govt orders Asian closed shops, re-opened

Government has ordered the re-opening of Asian shops which were closed some weeks ago for failing to comply with the competition and fair trading business Act.

Minister of Industry and Trade, John Bande personally evoked the licences for some Asian shops in all the three regions of the country, for maintaining high prices of secondhand clothes after government removed exercise duty on the products in the 2012/2013 National Budget.

The tax removal on the secondhand clothes and textiles meant that traders should also slash down the prices.

Bande said the shops had been re-opened after the owners discussed with government to pay all taxes and arrears due to government for the past years.

Shops inspector: Minister Banda recently when he visited some shop

He could not disclose as to how much government has recovered from that inspection exercise but was quoted in the media as saying government was losing in the region of plus or minus MK300million per year in fees.

The closed shops included Arax enterprise, Alimike enterprise, Nafees Investment and Shatteta enterprise including all Development Aid from People to People (DAPP) shops.

“After closure of those shops, the owners came to discuss with government on the way forward. So government demanded that they pay all taxes and arrears they have been running away from including reducing the prices of the secondhand clothes.

“So they agreed to do so and government advised them to re-open their shops and we are yet to get the feedback from the consumers,” said the Minister.

During the inspection, it was revealed that the Asian traders were also reportedly manipulating receipts offered to buyers with deferent prices as a mechanism to evade paying taxes to MRA.

Most of the traders had no licenses, which is against the requirement by the laws of Malawi. Bande strongly condemned the malpractice that involves some traders receiving more money but writing cash-sales with small amounts to pretend that they were selling at low prices which he said was a cheating maanouver.

Bande told the media during the inspection tour that the fact that some shop owners stopped renewing their business licenses as far back as 2008 was an indication of laziness of officers of his ministry and had since advised them to be effective and hard working.

He said his Ministry would deploy inspectors countrywide to check on each and every shop to ensure that all shops were operating within the laws and also recover the revenue that due for government.

During the inspection tour, a total of about ten shops were closed in all the regions of the country.

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