Rights group threatens demos over cooking oil tax

Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiative (CDEDI) has given government seven days to remove Value Added Tax (VAT) on cooking oil, saying it will mobilize Malawians to go the streets if the tax is not removed.

CDEDI Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa said this on Saturday during a press briefing which the organization conducted in Lilongwe.

Namiwa said that they had a virtual meeting with the Director of Revenue in the Ministry of Finance Kenneth Matupa who made it clear that the ministry was aware that the introduction of 16.5% VAT on cooking oil had pushed up the prices of cooking oil on the local market and that it has in turn opened up a market for smuggled oil products whose safety cannot be guaranteed.

He said the study by Mangochi District Health Office on food fortification revealed that most people are consuming foods that do not contain the required mineral and vitamins.

According to Namiwa, out of the height cooking oil samples which were scrutinized, only one contained the required Vitamin A.

“The Tonse Alliance Administration is deliberately introducing the punitive tax regimes in order to suffocate the local industry in an attempt to bring their preferred business interests.

“The latter can be true, looking at the recent closure of private companies such as the Kanengo Tobacco Processors Limited in Lilongwe and the announcement Bakhresa Group of Companies that they are closing their soap making plant in Mzuzu,” he explained.

He went on to say that Tonse Alliance administration is a government of many people whose interest is to benefit from the government through Malawians taxes that is why the government is trying all its level best to put tax in every product in order to ensure that everyone receives something at the end of the day.

He then worried that the situation has affected Malawians’ wellbeing more especially those living in rural areas, 80% of whom depend on subsistence farming.

Namiwa said that the Tonse Alliance government should always remember that it is the same Malawians who put them into power.

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