Tempers flare as minibus owners, government meet

There was tension at Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA)’s Msonkho house on Tuesday where government officials were meeting disgruntled executive committee of Minibus Owners Association of Malawi (Moam), Nyasa Times can reveal.

The meeting was in reaction to the minibus association’s threats to hold vigil at the National Assembly if government does not rescind its proposal in the 2012/2013 national budget on scrapping taxes on large buses.

According to Moam removing tax from big busses would automatically kill the minibus business which he said plays pivotal role to the country’s economy as majority of Malawians, in rural and urban areas alike, rely on minibuses as their convenient mode of transportation.

Kamange: Minibus owners not happy

And in a bid to neutralize potential scuffle with the association, Malawi government through the Finance Ministry met Moam officials at MRA offices where each side had the chance to present its grievances.

Nyasa Times sources confided that the meeting went through out the mid night without any progress made as Moam officials led by chairperson Christopher Chisesele and his secretary Coxley Kamange accused the government representatives of being former ruling DPP plants.

This did not go down well with the treasury as well as MRA officials who demanded the Moam officials to withdraw the statement. However, according to the source, the minibus association officials remained unmoved and threatened to walk out of the meeting.

“The meeting itself was tense but after hours of heated arguments a breakthrough was made and government has asked for three days to consult before responding to Moam’s demands,” confided our source.

When contacted, Kamange while refusing to divulge information on the matter, confirmed about the meeting.

He also conceded that another follow up meeting would be held in three days time.

“Yes, we met government officials, that’s true but I’m not in a position to give you all the details about what we discussed. As an association we re keeping our fingers closed but one thing I can assure you is that our ultimatum still remains we will camp at the National Assembly if our demands are not met,” said Kamange.

Both Ministry of Finance and MRA officials were not available for comment but some experts have warned that Dr. Ken Lipenga should trade carefully on the issue as he is not in a position to get boggled into fresh controversy.

In his 2012/2013 budget presentation, Lipenga announced that large buses would be exempted from paying taxes, in an effort to allow importation of more buses into the country, saying minibuses are killing a lot of Malawians through road carnages.

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