Authorities say drones will help curb smuggling

Ralph Jooma is a Mmember of Parliament in Malawi

Chairperson for the parliamentary committee on Defence and Security, Ralph Jooma, has disclosed plans for the country to start using drones in border areas as one way of curbing rampant smuggling of goods in the borders of Malawi and Mozambique.

Jooma made the remarks on Saturday when he together with fellow committee members visited the bordering areas along the M1 road from Ntcheu to Dedza.

“Last time when the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA), came to parliament, they complained on the porousness of our borders and we agreed that we should visit the place and  appreciate. So, you can see today   there are a lot of side roads that have joined into Malawi and Mozambique,” he said.

According to the parliamentary defense and security committee chair, people go through the side roads into either of the country especially at night which becomes very difficult for MRA to catch them.

“We have noted that a lot of people from Mozambique and Malawi are constructing warehouses where trucks come to offload goods mainly at night making it very difficult again for Malawian police and MRA to act because these are on the other side of Mozambique.

“So, these drones will help us monitor the situation which will feed into our database for action. At the same time, the issue of tax stamps will help us know that some goods came in through smuggling which will also give power to MRA to confiscate them,” he said.

He explained that the general public will be sensitised to avoid purchasing these goods and services without the tax stamps.

Jooma further said that meeting their Mozambican counterparts is another way to help deal with the development and will depend on how Mozambican side will view the problem adding the tendency is greatly affecting the country’s budget as most businesspersons do not pay tax.

On his part, MRA, Commissioner General, John Bizwick, said procurement of the drones whose donor is the World Bank, will happen soon saying the development is making Malawi to lose more tax but said issue of the tax stamp which he said is already on other products like cigarettes will be extended to other items like bottled water, liquor and some of the energy drinks.

Reported by Steve Chirombo