Rights group, Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI), says punitive taxes introduced by the Lazarus Chakwera administration will drive more people, especially women, into untold poverty.
CDEDI executive director Sylvester Namiwa made the remarks yesterday at a press briefing in Lilongwe.
He was reacting to the Tax Administration Bill which includes a clause requiring 3% advance tax payment on imports of not less than US$3000.
Namiwa said government was expected to waive some taxes to allow for the small and medium business operators, especially those involved in cross border trade, recover or at least survive the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the Chakwera administration has instead introduced the advance income tax.
Namiwa argued that the tax will drive more people, especially women, into untold poverty.
He added that the Tonse Alliance administration has failed to end theft of public funds and now wants to use such punitive taxes to collect money in order to fund its campaign promises.
“It is now evident, that Dr. Chakwera, and Dr. Saulos Chilima have found their campaign promises too huge a mountain to climb, and their misplaced priorities too costly to rectify. Instead of acting very decisively on the shameful theft and plunder of public resources which is being orchestrated by high profile political party officials from the Tonse Alliance partners, the two leaders have heartlessly authorized the very same thieves to unleash terror on the poor and the marginalized, through the introduction of punitive taxes in order to cover up the yawning gaps in the porous public purse. We cannot afford to continue like this, as a country,” said Namiwa.
He then challenged Chakwera not to assent to the punitive advance income tax bill and labour laws passed by Parliament.
Government has been widely criticized over the Tax Administration Bill but Minister of Finance Felix Mlusu argued in Parliament that the bill will widen the tax base.