The Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) has been accused of treating fairly Malawians of Asian origin suspected of tax evasion while indigenous Malawians are punished harshly.
Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) has made the allegations in a letter to MRA dated October 12.
The letter has been signed by CDEDI executive Director Sylvester Namiwa and is addressed to MRA’s John Bizwick.
It follows the death of businessperson Denis Katsache who died of Hypertension after MRA officials impounded his goods for tax evasion.
Katsache declared his goods and paid K3 million at Songwe border for the goods he had imported but MRA accused him of under-declaration and demanded more money plus a fine.
Katsache died a few hours after his goods were impounded and this angered the business community and relations of the deceased.
According to Namiwa, the anger came because Katsache was treated as if he would run away and never be traced at all!
“Sir, as you are reading this, MRA has lost a taxpayer; the Malawi government has lost a productive citizen who was contributing to the country’s GDP; the family has lost a husband and a father; the unemployed have lost a prospective employer. CDEDI, and indeed all Malawians of goodwill believe that this untimely death could have been avoided if only the MRA had treated the late Katsache fairly,” Namiwa said.
“It is also worth pointing out that CDEDI does not condone or let alone side with lawbreakers, but as they say two wrongs do not make a right. We believe the late Katsache’s case deserved fair and reasonable assessment.”
Another incident of tax evasion involved a company owned by a Malawian of Asian origin. MRA felt that the company had underdeclared the value of tyres which the company imported.
The tax collector in August 2019 obtained a warrant allowing it to investigate the issue but by August this year, MRA had not concluded the investigation.
The tax collector blamed the Covid-19 pandemic over the delay claiming that MRA officials were supposed to travel to China to verify the actual price of the goods the company had imported.
But the owner of the company told the local media in August that MRA had already released his goods.
Namiwa in his letter suspected that MRA and the businessperson and MRA had negotiated over the issue.
“Would CDEDI be wrong then to conclude that the MRA gives preferential treatment between the indigenous business people and the Malawians of Indian origin who are plying their trade in the country?” asked Namiwa.
He then demanded MRA to investigate the case involving the businessperson of Asian origin or it would be concluded MRA treats some business people, specifically the Malawians of Indian origin as sacred cows.