Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) says it has expanded its patrol footprints with the Flexible Anti-Smuggling Team (Fast) to prevent importation and exportation of illegal and harmful products.
In an interview recently, MRA head of corporate affairs Steve Kapoloma acknowledged that smuggling is taking place throughout the country, but they are dealing with it.
Msonkho House in Blantyre, where MRA head office is housed
He said: “We have introduced new patrol teams in the Eastern and Western regions on top of the existing teams in the South, Centre and North.
“These patrol teams will be canvassing across the unchartered and the smuggling-prone areas day and night, so that we can intercept those that are bringing illegal goods or those whose duty has not been paid. We are putting in our efforts to make sure we deal with these issues.”
Buttressing the point that smuggling cases have been on the increase in recent years, MRA deputy Fast manager for the Central Region, Grace Chilima emphasised that in 2021 they recorded 421 cases with estimated K2.2 billion value for duty purposes (VDP) against K1.7 billion duty; 440 cases in 2022 with estimated K3.4 billion VDP against K2.6 billion duty collected; and 419 recorded so far in 2023, with an estimated K3.3 billion VDP, and the cases are bound to rise by the end of this financial year.
Apart from Fast operations, Chilima stated that the tax collecting body has also devised other ways of dealing with smuggling, including the introduction of roving teams; the use of non-intrusive technology; identifying new roadblock sites; informant reward scheme and the use of drones among others.
Earlier this year, MRA commissioner general John Bizwick was on record as saying that Malawi loses over K100 billion annually due to tax evasion, of which smuggling is one.
Previously, the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament called on MRA to enhance the fight against tax evasion so that the lost revenue can be redirected into the public coffers. n