Traders lobbying for duty waiver on flour
While commending government for suspending import license requirements on importation of maize flour, traders in the industry are still calling on government to introduce a duty waiver on the commodity.
The importers argue that such a move would lead to reduction of prices on the commodity which would be in keeping with government’s aim of ensuring that more Malawians have access to the staple.
Two weeks ago, the government through the Ministry of Industry and Trade announced a suspension of import license requirement on importation of maize flour until May 31, 2016.
But according to Christian Mbedza of JJ Traders although the government’s move would see an influx of maize flour on the local market, the prices will remain high and unaffordable for an average Malawian.
“We welcome the government’s move to suspend the import requirement. However, we also appeal to the government to consider waiving duty on flour within the said period,” said Mbedza.
The trader said this will help to bring sanity on the market and lower the prices of the flour.
“I believe the government’s decision has been made to help low income earners find food easily. The move can only be fruitful if the prices are also reduced. Once the maize flour price goes down, maize prices will likely go down, resulting in a drop in food inflation,” he said.
But, according to Malawi Revenue Authority requirements, the traders can only import maize flour duty free if they obtain a certificate of origin for either the Southern Africa
Development Community (Sadc) or the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa).
“The suspension of the import licence does not mean that maize flour imports would now be exempt from import duty. Importers of maize flour should take into account that they would still be required to pay only 10 percent import duty.
“However, importers can import maize flour duty-free by obtaining either a Sadc or a Comesa certificate of origin if the maize flour originates in a Sadc or Comesa member state .The certificate of origin has to be certified by a competent authority of an exporting member state,” said MRA in its column run in The Daily Times on Thursday.