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‘Importers spending hours to cross Songwe border’

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A Time Release Study (TRS) conducted by the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) has shown that importers are spending on average 9 hours and five minutes to get customs clearance at Songwe border.

However, the importers spend 16 hours to cross the border entirely.

The study further shows that on average, exporters spend 23 minutes whereas people in transit spend 49 minutes to get customs clearance at the border.

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It also indicates that the exporters would spend on average over five hours to cross the border entirely.

A statement released by MRA said key factors affecting time taken to release goods at Songwe were inadequate infrastructure, shortage of staff and resources, absence of an electronic single window and language barriers.

“As means to improve trade facilitation, the study recommends improvement of infrastructure by fast tracking the establishment of One Stop Border Post and implementation of an electronic single window respectively.

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“It also recommends for beefing up staff as well as improve risk profiling of goods so that only those are of high risk should be examined,” reads the statement in part.

MRA Commissioner General, Tom Gray Malata, said the study findings are crucial to MRA operations.

“This is the first time that the Authority has independently conducted such a study without any technical assistance. The findings from the study will assist MRA to further improve trade facilitation and operations at border stations, thereby creating a conducive environment for doing business. The Authority will be conducting regular time release studies,” Malata said.

TRS is a tool designed by the World Customs Organisation (WCO) to aid tax administration in identifying bottlenecks and improving performance in clearance processes at the border.

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