Nov 25, 2017 Last Updated 7:59 AM, Nov 24, 2017
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Malawi Imports Slump

Imports into the country are said to have gone down evidenced by low import tax recorded by the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA).

Imports have for a long time been the country’s major trade problem affecting the economy.

Malawi continues to have a wide trade deficit with exports remaining lower than what enters the country’s borders.

Speaking to Capital FM Tax Authorities say during this time of the year imports tend to shift towards agriculture hence minimising the overall import goods.

This has seen import tax, especially VAT going down.

The same has been seen in Import Duty which has also missed its MK7.6 Billion target, as only MK6.9 Billion has been realised due to a drop in dutiable goods.

But Director of Corporate Affairs for the MRA Steve Kapoloma tells Capital FM that they are optimistic of meeting the expected targets as the financial year progresses.

Meanwhile, the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry has requested for a revision of some important Acts governing export of goods.

These include control of goods Act and Special crop Act.

The decision has been arrived at following complaints that the ban on Maize export was lifted too late when farmers had already fetched low prices for the grain.

According to Karl Chokhotho, President for the MCCCI, revision of the Acts will go a long way in ensuring that farmers are selling their commodities at a fair price.

The top exports of Malawi are Raw Tobacco ($702M), Dried Legumes  ($111M), Raw Sugar ($85.4M),Tea ($73M) and Raw Cotton ($25.6M).

The top export destinations of Malawi are Belgium-Luxembourg ($159M), Germany ($147M), India ($101M), South Africa ($75.2M) and the United States ($72.3M).

The top import origins are South Africa ($449M), China ($309M), India($238M), the United Arab Emirates ($236M) and Zambia ($119M).

The Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) is still under collecting taxes, despite continued reports of an improved national economic performance.

This is evidenced by their October collection, where MRA has tax revenue amounting to MK73. 8 Billion below their MK87.9 Billion projection.

The October collection also falls below MK76 Billion which was collected in the preceding month of September.

The MRA is however attributing the poor performance to low turnover in Pay as You Earn (PAYE), Corporate and Fringe Benefit Taxes.

The tax organisation further adds that the under collection in PAYE is owing to non-remittance of the revenues by some government institutions.

Industry and trade authorities have issued a stern warning against traders who are selling cement at exorbitant prices taking advantage of the scarcity of the product on the market.

The average retail market price of a 50 Kilogramme of cement is between MK6, 000 and MK6, 500.

It has however, been established that some traders are charging up to MK11, 000 or MK12, 000 per a 50 kilogramme bag of cement.

Malawi has been experiencing a shortage of cement for the past two months, due to what other traders attribute to the persisting power blackouts which have affected numerous business entities which rely on electricity to produce various products.

Officials from the Electricity Generation Company (EGENCO) have attributed the power cuts to low water levels in Lake Malawi and Shire River which is the main source of power generation in the country.

In a statement that Capital FM has seen, Secretary for Industry and Trade Joseph Mkandawire reveals that they are holding discussions with the cement industry on the matter and have issued import permits for cement in order to fill the existing gap of supply.

Meanwhile, Mkandawire warns that the government will take punitive measures against anyone offering prices higher than the recommended ones.

Malawi has three cement manufacturing companies, namely, Larfage, Shayona Cement Company and Malawi Cement Products Limited (CPL).

Malawi has moved at least 23 places up on the sub-Saharan Doing Business Index, the World Bank has disclosed.

According to the latest Doing Business report for 2018 Malawi has moved from position 133 to 110.

The country’s improved performance is being attributed to a number of reforms which have been made in the trade, finance and industry sectors.

Some of the notable areas of reform that have earned the country the improved performance are construction permits, Getting credit, Trading across borders, and Resolving insolvency.

This puts Malawi amongst the ten African countries that have made significant improvements in factors of doing business looking ahead to 2018.

The improvement however comes amid a brewing controversy of power supply which is also critical in doing business as energy is vital in almost all business operations.

The business industry is still grappling with power challenges which have seen captains of industry calling for urgent solutions.

Local air travellers continue to enjoy South African Airways flights, a month after reports that the airline was planning to abandon the Malawi route.

South African media reported that the Airline intends on cutting the number of flights on selected routes within their country, and in the Central African region.

Malawi was among the listed countries where the flights were to be cut as part of a restructuring process.

The move is expected to allow SAA to scale back their fleet from 50 aircrafts to only 40, of which they own only nine.

However, three weeks into October SAA Airliners are still plying the Malawi,  Blantyre and Lilongwe routes beyond 1st October which was mentioned as the cut off point.

And their online booking sites and flight schedules are also indicating continued operations throughout the month until December.

SAA is currently in debt which is threatening a possible liquidation if the South African Government fails to bail it out.

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