The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has questioned the sincerity of the planned engagement between Ministry of Finance and vehicle importers scheduled for this afternoon.

In a statement released a short while ago, HRDC wonders what purpose the engagement will serve when the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) has just announced that the new taxes for imported second hand cars will be in effect from August 1, 2023.

Reads the statement: “This gives the impression that the Ministry may have already made a decision to implement the new tax regime, despite the upcoming meeting and the concerns of the general public. Furthermore, we would like to bring to the Ministry’s attention that the constituency of vehicle importers extends beyond the car importers association. Therefore, we reiterate our earlier plea that the government should have extended invitations to widerstakeholders.”

HRDC argues that the new tax regime is illegal as is not provided for in the law and called on government to explain what necessited this arrangement.

“The Customs Law outlines three taxes applicable to the importation of goods: customs duty, import excise, and import VAT. In the previous system, these taxes were clearly defined, and every importer knew what they were paying for. However, in the new system, it seems that the government is working with a concealed invoice value and suppressed customs duty, without properly differentiating rates based on the year of make, mileage,engine size, or the vehicle’s condition” further reads the statement.

In an interview HRDC chairperson Gift Trapence said they will monitor the discussion planned for this afternoon and decide on the way forward. Trapence said they will, within their means, do everything possible to stop government from implementing the new measure he calls punitive.

The new tax arrange has pushed taxes for imported second hand vehicles, in some cases, to more than 600 percent leading to public outcry.


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