Malawi Songwe border chaos: Second hand car importers flag difficulties

Used car importers have weighed-in Songwe border crisis where they say the customs and excise department just changes the real prices used to buy cars for the sake of taxing them with higher border duty.

Imported second hand cars on Karonga-Songwe Road

Importers of Used Cars Association says every car that comes to be cleared at Songwe has its price increased by the customs department which a worrisome development to all entrepreneurs in the sector.

The outcry is coming just a few weeks after 9 clearing agents and 1 importer were arrested for allegedly forging invoices to fraudulently clear motor vehicles at the Karonga border crossing.

Tax collector Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA)  says the arrested customs clearing agents are suspected to have connived with some importers and some customs officers to use false invoices with the aim of paying to government less duty than what was payable.

But the move has opened an ill-fated pandora box where the agents have been complaining bitterly that Customs department must also arrest and publicize details of their own officers involved in the alleged scam.

The confrontation has now dragged-in other businesses involved with the border crossing. President of the Importers of Used Cars Association Henry Nyirenda says it is strange that every import of a vehicle at Songwe attracts a query and ends in an upliftment of prices despite the fact that all documents are presented to Customs.

“Customs has all the powers to verify the cars documents presented to them with companies where we buy the vehicles from and even cross-check with their colleagues in banks about the actual amounts we pay for these vehicles. But not at Songwe, this is not happening. They are just imposing queries and prices from their heads and our businesses are now squeezed to death,” Nyirenda says.

The association has since written MRA to address their concerns in a letter signed by the president and secretary Francis Mpemba  dated 11th May 2020. Nyasa Times has a copy.

In their statement announcing the arrests of agents, customs department’s Director of Tax Investigations, Steven Kajombo, said:  “In pursuit of our mandate to counteract fraud, we have put a strong investigation, ICT and legal team using latest technology to swiftly and effectively detect and bring to book any such fraudsters and any person who aided such illegal transaction.”

He quotes the Customs and Excise Act, stating that it is an offence for an importer, an agent or owner of the goods being imported to use or attempt to use documents or invoices that have been forged, falsified or framed so as to deceive the authority.

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kaukonde
kaukonde
9 months ago

Go to court and sue these thieves.

new_malawi
new_malawi
9 months ago

MRA is very unprofessional. MRA has been breaking the law for a long time by over-taxing importers. Twice, I had to appeal the dubious deliberate tax by MRA. For instance, they increased the import price of one of my vehicles by USD7,000 (yes, seven thousand dollars on top of the actual price of a vehicle whose actual price of USD11,000.00). Despite providing MRA with all the authenticated documents from the bank and invoices, including emails exchanges with the seller of the vehicle, they went on to increase the price of the vehicle. I was having none of it. Stood my… Read more »

Kamuzu
Kamuzu
9 months ago
Reply to  new_malawi

MRA officers at songwe query your vehicles so you give them a K50,000 for that query to go away. They know that your doc are legit but if they put a query they will make K50,000 for their pockets. Its happened to me.

Chaponda Team Mk145
Chaponda Team Mk145
9 months ago

but MRA should know that it pains to be paying huge and unreasonablet taxes only to end in Mulli’s pocket through dubious claims,, end in Atuple’s pocket,,,,, these guys are doing more evil than the taxpayers,,, put the money to good use then taxpayers will be oblidging apo biiii eeeeehhh

VYOTO
VYOTO
9 months ago

HE WHO COMES TO EQUITY MUST COME WITH CLEAN HANDS.WHILE THE MOVE TAKEN BY MRA IS WELOME THEY MUST ADDRESS THE CORRUPT MINDSET OF THE MRA OFFICERS AT THE BOARDERS.IT IS DRAINING GOVERNMENT POTENTIAL REVENUE

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