There will not be a Duty Free Week in the 2022-23 financial year which comes to an end on March 31, the Malawi Revenue Authority has disclosed.
Duty-free Week was set aside by the government to allow Malawian businesses and individuals to import goods whose Value for Duty Purpose (VDP) does not exceed $3, 000, about K2, 460,000 using today’s exchange rates, without paying any duty at the border.
MRA Commissioner General John Bizwick told Times in an interview in Lilongwe yesterday that the Duty Free Week was not spelt out by the Minister of Finance during the presentation of the 2022-23 national budget.
According to Bizwick, the Duty Free Week implemented in January last year was clearly spelt out in the 2021-22 national budget.
He said if the government wants a Duty Free Week in the next budget, then it has to be clearly stipulated in the budget statement to be presented in the coming weeks.
Last year, the Duty Free Week was observed from January 23 to 29.
Minister of Finance Sosten Gwengwe said it will be difficult to being back Duty Free Week this year.
“Priority will be to create fiscal space. May be in subsequent budgets,” he said.
But Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesperson Shadrick Namalomba Tuesday said the Tonse administration promised that the Duty Free Week will be an annual event and therefore no need for it to appear in the budget statement every year.
According to Namalomba, Malawians heard from the Tonse Alliance that they would be enjoying a Duty Free Week each year and therefore the need for the administration to deliver just that.
“Why do they want to embarrass the President? The President promised Malawians a Duty Free Week every year and it must be delivered without fail.
“Small-scale cross-border traders are eagerly waiting for the Duty Free Week as promised. Why change tune today?” Namalomba said.
Last year, the duty free importation privilege was open to everyone irrespective of the category of importers except for incorporated entities.
To qualify for duty free importation benefits, importers were required to register for taxes and only individuals with Taxpayer Identification Number (TPIN) were eligible to clear goods duty free.
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.