Revenue collectors, the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) says demands by some business people in Mzuzu to stop tax compliance officials from visiting their business premises shows lack of understanding of tax issues.
Hundreds of business people and other traders on Monday took to the streets in Mzuzu to protest against what they call corrupt practices by some MRA officials.
The business people have since asked for the transfer of two top MRA officials in the city and a stop by MRA to visiting their premises for tax compliance.
MRA spokesperson Steven Kapoloma said there was need to sensitize people on the need for tax compliance.
“The business people cannot say we should stop tax compliance in Mzuzu and continue in other parts of the country, it does not work like that,” he said.
He also dismissed that MRA has erected several road blocks in the region for tax compliance, saying there is only one road block for the same in Karonga.
Lead organizer of the protests, Kiteme Kamanga said MRA asks them to remit exorbitant taxes on small scale businesses and hefty fines for non-compliance over usage of electronic fiscal devices.
In the petition addressed to MRA commissioner general Tom Malata, the Mzuzu-based businesspersons have demanded the immediate suspension of the newly introduced Carbon Tax until the public tax collector clearly explains its objective.
They have also demanded the removal of some personnel from the tax authority and asked MRA management to institute investigations into sexual harassment by some officials towards women who are involved in cross-border trade, especially those going to Tunduma and Kyela in Tanzania.
Reads the petition in part: “We are concerned with the behaviour of some of your officers at Mzuzu office who continue to harass citizens and solicit bribes, especially from Malawians of Asian origin. This continued harassment is creating unnecessary animosity between the authority and citizens.
“We are saddened by your insensitivity to and disregard of concerns and grievances of similar nature raised by Malawians before as evidenced by your partisan behaviour that has seen some political party sympathisers dominating top leadership positions at MRA.”
The entrepreneurs are also demanding that some MRA officers be transferred from the region for allegedly advancing selfish motives and corruption.
They have since given MRA 14 days to respond to the demands, failing which they will stop remitting taxes.
“To make things worse, you have sent your team to the North to close all shops that do not have Electronic Fiscal Devices [EFD] which as you know, cost beyond affordability of most indigenous businesspeople.
“Your EFDs are often out of service. It is sad because while other countries are developing deliberate policies to empower struggling indigenous entrepreneurs, our government is developing policies that disempower locals and promote foreigners. We find this sickening,” further reads the petition.
MRA issued a notice at the weekend announcing the introduction of carbon tax on vehicles with effect from Monday, mainly to expand its revenue base which has been roundly criticized for being based on the wrong premise.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :