Nankhumwa tours Sunseed, manufacturer attributes rising oil prices to VAT, erratic Kwacha

Leader of Opposition in Parliament Kondwani Nankhumwa has said he would be engaging fellow Members of Parliament (MPs) when they meet in Lilongwe from next week to explore ways of curbing the continuing rise cooking oil prices and that of other basic commodities.

He made the disclosure on Wednesday, November 3,2021 in Lilongwe when he made a surprise visit to Sunseed Oil Limited, one of Malawi’s largest edible cooking oil manufacturers.

The opposition leader told reporters that he undertook the visit to engage the owners of the company and learn first-hand about the challenges they are facing, which are affecting the prices on the market.

“Cooking oil prices have almost tripled in the last one year. As a leader, I came here to understand what the problems and how we can solve them. Malawians ought to have access to cheaper cooking oil and other foodstuffs if we are to achieve a healthy nation for genuine social and economic development.

In that vein, I will be engaging MPs, the government, and all relevant stakeholders on how best we can control the prices of edible oil and other essential commodities. Malawians are already reeling under the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and we cannot continue burdening them with rising essential commodity prices,” said Nankhumwa, who is also the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Vice President responsible for the Southern Region.

The youthful politician said from what he had learnt so far, the rise in the edible oil prices is mainly attributable to unfriendly taxes, including the 16.5 percent value added tax (VAT) levied on cooking oil and the increase in import duty on raw materials.

Nankhumwa also said that he has learnt that the 16.5 percent VAT on cooking oil has given rise to smuggling of cooking oil from neighbouring such as Mozambique and Mozambique, disadvantaging the local manufacturers.

SunSeed Oil Chief Executive Officer Sameer Ahmed informed the Leader of Opposition and his entourage that apart from the issue of taxes, shortage of forex has also exacerbated the problem as they face challenges when they want to replenish dwindling raw materials, which they import from outside the country.

Ahmed further revealed that the Malawi Kwacha’s instability against major foreign currencies has also made business unpredictable hence the fluctuating cooking oil prices.

Mangochi Monkey Bay MP Ralph Jooma, who accompanied the Leader of Opposition, noted that government made an erroneous decision by introducing the said VAT on refined cooking oil. He also faulted the government on its alleged failure to control cooking oil imports.

Other officials that accompanied Nankhumwa were Zomba parliamentarian and former Minister of Information, Mark Botomani, Blantyre North MP and former Sports Minister Francis Phiso, and Phalombe MP George Million, among others.

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