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MRA calls for professionalism and high-integrity in the clearing agents community

MRA calls for professionalism and high-integrity in the clearing agents community

The Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) has called on the clearing agent community to be professional and of high integrity.

The call was made by the MRA Commissioner General John S. Biziwick when MRA engaged customs clearing agents at Sunbird Mount Soche in Blantyre on Tuesday 14 June 2022.

The Commissioner General stressed that customs clearing agents are pivotal to the economy of the country due to the role they play as a link between importers and the Authority in line with the Customs & Excise Act.

“This meeting is an important step towards ensuring that the MRA understands issues affecting your end, much as you appreciate ours so that together we can develop solutions that will work in the best interest of both parties,” he said.

“We want a clearing agent community that is professional and of high integrity – you are the face of MRA. Taxpayers meet you first before MRA”, he added.


Biziwick said that MRA is spearheading a robust stakeholder engagement programme to promote dialogue, building and fostering strong relations to improve service delivery and support effective tax reforms and administration.

During the meeting it was revealed that the MRA is losing millions in tax revenue through tax evasion and forgery of documents aided by customs clearing agents.

Director of Internal Affairs McSyd Chalunda cited one of the cases where a clearing agent facilitated smuggling of goods whose revenue loss amounted to K424 million.

Chalunda said that corruption, being a double-sided stake where officers are on the demand side and agents and other external stakeholders on the supply side, demands effort from both parties to resolve it.

“A total of 82 officers have been dismissed since 2013 while very few clearing agents or agencies have faced consequences for their involvement in similar acts which demonstrates that the fight against corruption has been one sided,” he said.

“One recurring case has been that of undervaluation of imports such as motor vehicles,” he added.

President of the Clearing and Freight Forwarding Association of Malawi (CAFAM) Mrs. Dumbani Kalua expressed her gratitude that MRA had organized such an important meeting.

“One of the key issues affecting our daily work processes is lack of updated information attributed by poor communication between MRA and the agents especially on policy changes as well as getting feedback from MRA through various channels such as emails,” Kalua said.

“It should also be noted that officers often demand to be taken to assignments and at the expense of the agent and this has not been fair”, she added.

The MRA team which comprised representatives from Customs & Excise, Legal Services and Internal Affairs divisions took turns to present on different topics which included; MRA reforms and key initiatives, obligations of customs brokers under the tax administration act, addressing integrity issues involving clearing agents and the role of clearing agents.

 An open discussion followed where both parties dissected various issues affecting business operations while outlining proposed resolutions.

The participants included members from the Clearing Association of Freight Forwarders of Malawi (CAFAM), Indigenous Customs Clearing and Forwarding Agents (ICAFA) and representatives of customs clearing agents. 

The meeting, whose objective was to provide an interface to outline, evaluate, discuss and address various business issues affecting both the MRA and the agents drew participants from different parts of the country.

 

BY FUNSANI JOHN SCANDER

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