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Mixed views on duty free week

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By Justin Mkweu

Stakeholders have expressed mixed views on the duty-free week which has been gazetted and is set to run from January 23 to 29 this year.

According to the Customs and Excise (duty free week) Regulations of 2022, an importer will be allowed to import goods worth not more than $3,000 (K2.4 million under the current exchange rate).

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The law further says that an eligible importer needs to have a Taxpayer Identification Number and show a Malawian National Identity Card for verification.

“Notwithstanding the provisions of the Act, during any duty-free week, certain goods may be imported free of any import duty, import excise and import valued added tax to which such goods would, but for the provisions of these regulations, be liable,” the regulations read.

Commenting on the matter, Institute of Chartered Accountants in Malawi Chief Executive Officer Francis Chinjoka Gondwe said, while the duty-free week would help citizens, it has been ill-timed.

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Gondwe said the government needs more resources for operations and that the duty free week will cripple revenue.

“The economy is not doing well and we are also servicing a huge deficit budget which needs revenue and, apart from that, the timing is off because people have spent a lot of money during the festive season and needed at least one month to plan,” he said.

Economist from Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences (Mubas) Betchani Tchereni believes the week has been placed strategically to bring sanity.

He further applauded the Tonse Alliance administration for fulfilling the promise it made during the campaign period, describing the gesture as rare.

National Association for Small and Medium Enterprises General Manager Prince Tauzi expressed joy over the news but asked for awareness on the week so that people understand it better.

The duty-free week was a campaign promise made by the Tonse Alliance during the campaign trail to the June 2020 presidential election.

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