By Taonga Sabola:
The ICT Association of Malawi (Ictam) has said it is shocked by the decision of the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) and Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma) to implement a five percent levy on media storage devices.
Ictam has described the levy, which will be effected on April 15, as retrogressive and unrealistic, saying it will heavily affect all Malawians directly and indirectly as the prices of all ICT equipment will go up thereby reversing all efforts by the government to bridge the digital divide by lowering the cost of ICT products and services.
“This will eventually hinder ICT penetration and counteract the social and economic development that the country has achieved through ICT,” Ictam says in a statement released yesterday.
The ICT professional body asked MRA and Cosoma to rescind the decision on the levy.
In a joint statement at the weekend, MRA and Cosoma say the levy would be charged on purchases of recordable media as compensation to rights holders for loss of income due to copyright infringements.
The two firms argued that the levy was expected to save musicians who have continued to cry foul over the levels of piracy in the country despite existence of the Copyright Act of 2016.
“As a tax administration [issue], MRA will be charging and collecting the levy on importation of media storage devices through its Customs and Excise Division,” it reads.
The notice further says the levy would be charged and collected on importation of items such as audio and video cassettes, compact discs (CDs), modulator, MP3 player, Blu-Ray, USB flash discs and Sim card.
Other devices are cellular telephones with storage and reproducing capacities, personal computers not exceeding 30 kilogramme, photocopier, printer, scanner camcorder, digital camera, external hard drive and radio and television sets enabling recordings.
MRA Head of Corporate Affairs, Steve Kapoloma, could not be reached for a comment on Ictam’s observation while his assistant, Wilma Chalulu, was reportedly in a meeting when contacted.