The Business community and Malawian populace have a reason to smile if the country’s State President, Professor Bingu wa Mutharika, guarantee on security is anything to go by.
Mutharika, who is also Commander -In-Chief of the Malawi Defense Force and Malawi Police Services, says he has an obligation to protect the people and the businesses they operate in the country.
“I have the responsibility of giving you total security. What I mean is that entrepreneurs have investments, premises, and residences or homes that need security if they are to excel in their operations,” Mutharika narrates.
The Malawi leader however observes that it is a tall order to accomplish this duty if taxes are not honored and calls upon the business community to honour their tax obligations too.
“I am geared to see to it that total security is offered to everyone. But I can not do this without money, so pay your respective taxes in time and not evade tax because it is counterproductive,” he emphasizes, analyzing how revenue generated through taxes finds itself in the Tax-Police-Security web, saying: “I cannot offer total security without the Police. But the police need to be paid. And they can not be paid if the government does not have money. The money ought to come from the taxes, so if you evade tax it will therefore not be easy to protect you.”
The Malawi President made the challenge in Blantyre during the official launch of Msonkho House, headquarters of the country’s tax collection agency, the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA), which was jointly celebrated with MRA’s ten years operations.
But he warns those who indulge in tax evasion, smuggling or fraud to stop forth or face the music, saying: “Apart from the heavy fines that would be imposed on you, you will be imprisoned, so dare not do the contrary”.
Any government, Mutharika says, needs taxes for it to operate and improve on road and railway network, education and health sectors among others.
The Malawi business community has for some time been concerned that they are operating in un safe environment because of criminology that has seen cases of attacks at some business premises and during banking errands on the increase.
And of late there have also been disruptions in business operations and loss of property in the country’s major cities of Lilongwe, Blantyre and Mzuzu following disagreements between government and some sectors of the society like vendors and the civil society organizations which has seen running battles between the Malawi Police and the concerned groups.
The Malawi president’s assurance comes at a time when the country’s Police and Army are in separate national wide recruitment campaigns, a move that will obviously close up the gaps and increase the service delivery by both the forces.
MRA commissioner general Lyoid Muhara thanked all stakeholders for their different roles in making MRA have a success story, saying the tax collection agency is on the right track because it always beats its targets.
“This is why the theme of our celebration is ‘ten years of success together’ because the achievements of MRA are due to the commitment of both the staff and tax payers.
MRA was born following an order by the former head of state Dr. Bakili Muluzi on February 15 2000 that two department of Customs & Excise and that of Income Tax merge to maximize the country’s revenue collection.