As smuggling continues to threaten Malawi’s economy, the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) has seized 357 bales of zitenje (wrappers) worth K16.9 million in duty belonging to a Chinese businessperson Xue Jue Xiang.
MRA Marketing Communications Manager, Wilma Chalulu, said Jue Xiang declared 495 bales as a ladies garments consignment.
“MRA at Lirangwe roadblock intercepted a truck carrying the consignment out of which 357 bales were the zitenje bales. Fabric (garments) duty is valued differently from zitenje, hence if the whole consignment was to go through, the businessperson could have evaded K16.9 million of duty,” said Chalulu, adding that smuggling cases are now on the increase.
She said Jue Xiang has committed an offence of misdeclaration which is contrary to Section 135 of the Customs and Excise Act that is punishable under section 142 of the same Act.
She further said the penalty for the Chinese man will be determined after a determination is made.
“The seizure and a file have already been opened for the businessperson. The final determination will be calculated after everything is finalized.
“There are various penalties that apply some go up to 10 times the amount of duty evaded, but on this one it will depend on the determination that will be made by the officers,” she said.
Chalulu said the seizure is a warning to the business community.
“MRA is mandated to collect revenue on behalf of the government. This revenue is meant for all sorts of social services for this country, hence as MRA we will carry out our duty as stipulated by law and we will not tolerate this kind of behavior.
“By evading duty, business persons are depriving ordinary Malawians of what could have made their lives better through better services and good infrastructure,” said Chalulu.
For a better half of last year, MRA failed to beat its monthly revenue tax collection targets.
Smuggling of goods into the country such as cooking oil, cigarettes, batteries, sugar and cement are on the rise, threatening closure of some of the manufacturing companies.
Last week, two companies, SunSeed Oil and Mapeto DWS said already they have downsized their operations because their locally manufactured goods cannot compete against the smuggled items.
In an interview in December 2015, MRA Commissioner General, Tom Malata, said smuggling is one of the factors that are affecting monthly revenue collections.
He said most smuggled products go through Ntcheu, Mulanje and Songwe.
A vibrant writer who gives a great insight on hot topics and issues