A tax exert has said with the right interventions, the Malawi Revenue Authority has capacity to further improve its revenue collection capacity.
The expert, Emmanuel Kaluluma, who runs a tax consultancy firm, EK Tax Consultants, having previously worked as Commissioner at the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA), said lapses in revenue collection in the past were as a result of inability by authorities to fully enforce the law.
The Budget and Finance Committee of Parliament recently raised questions over how MRA has been able to beat its revenue targets in the first quarter of the 2016/2017 financial year at a time when companies and individuals are struggling to make ends meet.
While acknowledging that the trends may be positive to the economy, the committee said it fears Malawians are being overburdened to meet tax obligations that the government set for the current financial plan which will be largely financed with domestic resources.
So far, MRA has reported a revenue surplus of K23.3 billion having collected K251.8 billion in the first four months of the 2016/2017 Fiscal Year against a projection of K228.5 billion..
But Kaluluma said the figures can improve further if the right interventions are put in place.
“Our biggest step should be what does the law say and see if everyone is complying with the law. MRA has to do a little bit more,” Kaluluma said.
He suggested incorporating of the deceased estate into the tax net as a mechanism to further grow the revenue base.
According to Kaluluma, already, the law paves way for MRA to collect revenue from the deceased estates, saying, this would pave way for further growth of the revenue basket.
Earlier, chairperson of the Budget and Finance Committee of Parliament, Rhino Chiphiko, said with a tax base that has not seen any significant increase and an economy that is performing badly due to electricity problems, it was surprising that MRA is able to beat its revenue targets.
“When you look at the way the economy is performing, you really wonder whether this is not impacting negatively and badly on the citizens when you look at the kind of hostile tax regime that does not take cognisance of the fact that the economy is struggling.
“The tax base has not been increasing and one wonders how MRA has managed to collect the money that it targeted under such very hard economic circumstances,” Chipiko said.
But MRA Deputy Director of Corporate Affairs, Steven Kapoloma, has since defended the collection success, saying it has come about by virtue of the increasing number of compliant taxpayers.