Opposition People’s Party (PP) leader in Parliament, Ralph Mhone, has urged the government to put in place measures that will ensure that goods that go through the country illegally are inspected and, where necessary, impounded.
Mhone was making his contribution to the Control of Goods Bill which, among other things, stipulates that goods in transit cannot be subjected to scrutiny under the law.
But Mhone argued that the provision is counterproductive as criminals may easily use the country to move illegal goods such as firearms, ammunition and drugs, safe in the knowledge that they will not be impounded.
“My concern is that goods in transit have been exempted, yet we, as a country, are trying to control illicit trade. Malawi is used as a transit point of illegal goods. Illicit drugs are transhipped through Malawi to other countries,” Mhone said.
He further warned that, if the bill maintains the provision that goods in transit should not be inspected and, if necessary, impounded, the country risks losing out.
“Already, other nationals are transhipping our minerals through Mozambique. If the loopholes were sealed, I think we would be passing a very important bill,” he added.
Malawi Congress Party spokesperson on legal matters, Maxwell Thyolera, also urged the government to use the bill to control the influx of substandard goods which, he argued, are a threat to development.
Thyolera said the bill is coming at a good time the Malawi Bureau of Standards is putting up modern infrastructure for controlling goods manufactured in the country as well as those imported from outside.
Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Henry Mussa, acknowledged the concerns raised by the opposition lawmakers and promised that they would be taken on board.
The bill, which was passed, was, therefore, amended, such that even goods in transit will be controlled under the law.
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