Govt Indecisive on 2022/23 Duty-free Week

Gwengwe Gwengwe - internet pic

Finance minister, Sosten Gwengwe says government is yet to commit on whether to observe this year's duty free week or not.

Gwengwe has told Zodiak Online on Tuesday that for now the initiative is part of the 2023/24 pre-budget consultations underway, as they are reviewing what transpired last year, where the benefit of K600 million was passed-on to Malawians.

"We still think that as a way forward we need to give people a chance to see if we need the duty-free week or not. So for now there is no commitment that we will be doing it in the next few weeks. If we have to do it, we will come to the public in good time", Gwengwe said.

As per Tonse Alliance manifesto, last year, in accordance with Section 96 (2) of the Customs & Excise Act, the minister of finance declared the 23 to the 29 January as a duty-free week.

Meanwhile, Indigenous Business Association of Malawi (IBAM) president, Mike Mlombwa, says their association is ready for the week, but it will still wait for the government's decision.

Mlombwa has disclosed that last year, the week helped to resuscitate the collapsing businesses due to Covid-19.

"A lot of indigenous businesses were geared for the initiative especially the SMEs, they kept something to import, so that with this January they could go to the neighboring countries in the week to buy goods. So let's wait and see how the government is going to assist,“ he said.

Last year, government projected to forgive K3 billion during the week, but Minister Gwengwe says the benefit of K600 million was passed-on to Malawians.

The week was aimed at reinvigorate small medium enterprises who were allowed to import goods, whose Value for Duty Purpose (VDP) did not exceed USD3, 000.

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