Malawi Trade Minister’s sealed for illegal business operation, senior staff arrested

MACRA has sealed off multi-billionaire Minister of Trade, Mark Katsonga Phiri’s Ampex Courier Ltd and arrested its division manager and an accountant for operating a courier company illegally.
A statement from Director General, Daud Suleman— dated July 14, 2022 — said at it its 75th meeting held on April 14, the MACRA Board approved the renewal of AMPEX Domestic Courier Services licence subject to the company settling its outstanding licence fees and levies amounting to K29,579,418 as well as paying US$5,000 renewal fees.

Trade Minister Katsonga
“AMPEX was advised not to operate courier services until they obtain a valid courier licence,” said the statement. “MACRA has taken this action after its investigations revealed that AMPEX was still operating courier services contrary to its directive.
“MACRA is therefore advising the public that operating a courier or any communications services business without a valid licence issued by MACRA is illegal under sections 31 and 122 of the Communications Act Cap 68:01 of the Laws of Malawi.
“Any person who will be found engaging in such illegal acts commits an offence and MACRA shall not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against any perpetrators.”
In April, MACRA went on a campaign sensitising the general public that they should make sure the buses and other motorists they use as courier to send parcels and packages to various destinations have a certificate of registration from MACRA.
MACRA Director General on a mission to root out illegal operators

MACRA also had warned bus operators — and other motorists that illegally transport people on long distances — that if found delivering packages and parcels without a licence are liable to a fine of K1 million plus a maximum jail term of two years.

This was done after the regulator discovered that illegal courier services by bus operators and other long distance taxi operators is rampant — thus their decision to warn the public that courier service is very sensitive.
The public is being encouraged to use operators who prove they are licensed by MACRA because if they use illegal means — and their packages and parcels get lost or stolen — they have no means to be compensated.
Last month, MACRA disclosed that some 250 operators in the communication sector are not following their license regulations of honouring their annual license fees and owe the regulator over K9.4 billion.
At a press conference Suleman said there were some license holders — in broadcasting; telecommunication; postal and courier services — who risked having their licences revoked if they did not meet the deadline they gave themselves to pay their arrears.
Topping the list were players in the telecommunication, who owe MACRA over K8.2 billion with over K800 million by broadcasters and K377 million by the postal and courier service providers.
Suleman had said the debt date back as far back as 10 years go (2012) and dismissed reports coming from the license holders, who insinuate that MACRA is just witch hunting on political grounds.
He emphasized that as a regulator, they are just executing the mandate which the Communications Act and that as provided by the law, they first engage the delinquent lice holders holders, who — upon agreeing to what they owe the regulator — are given a leeway to honour their debts on a maximum period of six months.
As of December, February, March and April, MACRA summoned to hearings some 37 operators and 31 have been heard and are being monitored after pledging to pay within their specified period while one had its licence revoked.
Suleman had also allayed fears that revocation of broadcasting licences might render a lot of people lose their jobs, saying MACRA is just aiming at making the Industry as vibrant as possible so that as they realise good returns, they might employ more experts currently being trained at Malawi Institute of Journalism (MIJ) and at Malawi University of Business & Applied Sciences (MUBAS) — formerly the Polytechnic of Malawi.
From their survey, Suleman said most of these industry players lack governance expertise, saying honouring legal obligations such as the MACRA license fees is one of them.
“We want the broadcasting industry as vibrant as possible so that when it grows, it should contribute towards economic and social development of the people of Malawi through job creation.”

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