Opposition political parties in the country have urged graft-busting body Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) to stamp out corruption at Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA), saying the tax-collecting body is being used to oppress small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
The parties including Malawi Congress Party (MCP), United Transformation Party (UTP), New Labour Party (NLP), People’s Progressive Movement (PPM), United Independent Party (UIP) and Malawi Forum for Unity and Development (Mafunde) told reporters at Grace Bandawe Conference Centre in Blantyre that MRA has been used to harass some SMEs whose owners were seen as government critics.
“Malawi government needs to realise that it has a serious problem of official criminality on its hands and should not go on sleeping on the job. It is a problem which impacts negatively on the social and economic development of Malawi as a whole,” said PPM president Mark Katsonga-Phiri.
The parties in a joint statement issued at the news conference, say the country’s commercial banks and MRA are mostly favouring those in power at the expense of most of the SMEs which is a setback to the country’s development.
“Malawi SMEs are often fleeced by the MRA. They pay duties and taxes they do not owe. They are hounded for back taxes if they are seen to be political critics or supporters of opposition parties,” said Newton Kambala, president of UTP.
Kambala, former boss at Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), said there have been cases where MRA has been used to harass some SMEs whose owners were seen as government critics.
He added: “Recently, a town councilor defected to the ruling party after a tax audit by the MRA. It was the only way he could avoid paying taxes to MRA. Big businesses which are owned by non-Malawians get their container loads of goods in duty free or on minimal amounts [taxes] just because they financially support the ruling party.”
Others who spoke included Mafunde president George Nnesa, president for NLP Sam Mpasu, UIP president Edwin Banda and MCP second vice president, Macdonald Lombola.
But Minister of Information and Communications Technology Nicholas Dausi , who is official government spokesman, has rejected accusations that government uses MRA as political tool to oppress political competitiors and critics, saying the opposition are ignorant in the basics of economics.
Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :