Opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) on Friday hit at government for putting in place tax measures that do not have a significant impact on the lives of Malawians.
Minister of Finance, Goodall Gondwe, tabled Taxation (Amendment) Bill, as one of the bills that will help in the implementation of the K1.323 trillion budget the MPs passed on Thursday.
People’s Party (PP) spokesperson on Finance, Ralph Jooma, said the raising of a tax-free bracket of Pay as You Earn (Paye) from K20,000 to K30,000 has little impact on an individual.
“The K10,000 increase is not making a significant increase to an individual, comparing it with prevailing economic situation. It is actually translating to about K1,500 increase,” Jooma said.
He also said the introduction of a 35 percent tax rate for employment income in excess of K3 million, will not lead to much income to government.
“People receiving such salaries are very few. Not much money can be raised from the amount,” Jooma said.
When responding to some of the issues raised, Gondwe told the House that the tax changes made to the tax-free bracket will make government lose about K10 billion.
He, however, said the changes made to the Taxation Act will support the process of generating more tax revenues.
Lilongwe Mapuyu South MP, Joseph Njobvuyalema, argued that the introduction of K1 million fine for a person who assaults a tax officer may contradict other laws.
“We already have laws on assault. I believe that the K1 million fine may contradict those laws,” Njobvuyalema said.
One of the penalties highlighted in the bill is that any person who fails to furnish the Commissioner General [of Malawi Revenue Authority] returns of particulars relating to persons employed by him commits an offence and shall be liable to a fine of K300,000 for companies and K75,000 for individuals for the first month or part thereof.
The bill also indicates that a person who forcibly rescues or attempts to rescue any property, article, or object which has been detained or seized by an officer in pursuant of the Act commits an offence and shall be liable to a penalty of K1 million, or upon conviction to imprisonment of one year.
Other offences attracting a K1 million fine each include inciting a person to refuse to pay tax and obstructing officers in the discharge of duties under this Act.
Although the MPs raised a number of concerns on the bill, they eventually passed it. Other Bills they passed were Value Added Tax (Amendment) and Customs and Excise (Amendment). The MPs also passed two appropriation bills.
But Jooma, together with his MCP counterpart, Alexander Kusamba Dzonzi, raised a number of issues to all the bills Parliament passed.
“I think these bills should come before the budget is passed, so that where necessary we should change. But at this stage, it is difficult to make the changes,” Jooma said.
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