It is no doubt that the sheer joy of getting out of debt outweighs every other feeling, regardless of whether the subject of the debt was an individual or organisation.
Which is why we understand state broadcaster, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation’s (MBC) desperation to shrug off the K4.5 billion tax arrears it owes the Malawi Revenue Authority. MBC’s director of news, Geofrey Kazembe, did not hide the corporation’s discomfort with the arrears in explaining how they have been choking the state broadcasters’ operations to register.
The government has weighed in on the issue, expressing its willingness to help MBC shrug off the debt.
However, we sense, here, that the government is playing double standards. We speak out of the experience of last year’s events, when MRA, probably at the behest of the government, went after organisations and companies on trumped up tax non-compliance charges.
A pollster had offices ransacked and emptied of contents in Zomba days after releasing research findings that did not win the ruling party’s favour. Before that, MRA officials pounced on Times Group, accusing it of not complying with tax obligations when the truth is that the oldest media house in the land had been paying up
Ironically, the very same MRA has shown its soft under-belly by doing nothing about MBC’s tax arrears. To say the truth, if MBC were some other entity not connected to the state, MRA would have risen and strung it from the nearest tree long ago.
But, like all responsible corporate citizens, MBC should own up to its debts and settle them without involving the government.
MBC should not be treated as a sovereign, especially now when we are in a democracy that demands equal treatment of all.
In fact, the government should be seen to be a father that encompasses all.
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