Nov 20, 2017 Last Updated 2:48 PM, Nov 20, 2017
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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.

A US based private bank, HSBC has pledged to provide $100 Billion in financing and investment to all developing countries by 2025 to help combat climate change.

The pledge follows the 23rd Conference of Parties (COP) 23 which is under way in Bonn, Germany where nations including Malawi are negotiating for greater investments in projects that will help combat climate change.

Malawi being a member of the Least Developing Countries is making deliberate efforts in negotiating for big projects that will bring change to nations to through COP23.

Malawi’s Chief Environmental Officer in the Department of Environmental Affairs, Evans Njewa told the Malawi News Agency in Germany that the pledge has come at the right time as Malawi is struggling to deal with extreme weather events such as floods and drought.

The HSBC pledge will involve direct lending, bonds and project finance, alongside new products in asset management.

HSBC Bank plc is one of the largest banking and financial services organisations in the world. HSBC's international network comprises around 7,500 offices in over 80 countries and territories in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, the Americas, the Middle East and Africa.

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.

Blantyre residents are speaking out against ESCOMs’ proposed tariff hike, saying that the parastatal should only increase its tariffs when the power situation has been improved and stable.

Blackouts across the country have become the norm, despite their crippling effects on both businesses and households.

The tariff increase is said to be inevitable as EGENCO needs capital to hire Diesel generators from ESCOM to reduce power outages.

Speaking to Capital FM, residents in of the commercial capital indicated that the move is unjustifiable.

“Why should they hike tariffs as if they are giving us power when we need it?” one Chilobwe woman asked.

Another who is based in Ndirande Township said the move will have very negative impacts on a majority of Malawians.

“This will affect us badly; the hike should have only been made if we had more hours of powers and maybe two or three hours without it.

There is no point is raising tariffs as if we have electricity to even pay for, “she added.

Meanwhile, Associate Professor of Law at the Chancellor College Edge Kanyongolo disclosed to Capital FM that there is no constitutional provision on electricity supply that the public can use to make a legal complaint over the prevailing blackouts.

The Professor explains that the public can however use their right and freedom to assemble and hold demonstrations as a way of making the power supplier accountable.

In the same vein, human rights activist Billy Mayaya is planning on holding demonstrations on the blackouts that ESCOM customers are being subjected to.

Mayaya said the power outages are affecting various works in the country.

“The time has come for Malawians to rise up and be heard.

“We demand good services because this is not the first time that we have been subjected to this,” Mayaya said.

However that date or venue for the demonstrations is yet to be set.

RBM Maintains Policy Rate

The Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) has resolved to maintain the policy rate at eighteen percent.

This is the rate that is used by the central bank to implement or signal its monetary policy stance.

The monetary policy committee met last month to make a decision on the matter, following a similar meeting held in June this year.

The June meeting recommended a slash in the base rate from 22 percent to 18 percent, thereby pushing commercial banks to reduce their interest rates.

RBM Governor Dalitso Kabambe, who is also Chairman of the monetary policy committee, said the decision to maintain the policy rate will help, consolidate economic gains and help maintain the single digit inflation rate.

According to NSO, the current inflation rate indicates a decline of 0.9 percent from the month of July, 2017.

The urban and rural rates stand at 8.9 percent and 9.8 percent respectively. Overall, food inflation stands at 6.2 percent from 7.4 percent in July 2017 while non-food inflation stands at 12.2 percent from 12.7 percent in July 2017.

This year, Malawi produced more than 30 percent surplus in maize owing to good climatic conditions after two successive years of low output due to drought and floods.

NSO figures released show that August inflation rate has eased by 0.9 percentage points from July’s 10.2 percent.

During the same period last year, inflation was at 22.8 percent, and this shows that prices of goods and services have increased at a much more reduced rate.

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