An advocacy institution, the Centre for Democracy and Development Initiatives [CDEDI], is demanding the Tonse Alliance Government to scrap off Value Added Tax [VAT] on cooking oil which has ended up making poor people more miserable and has posed a great threat to the survival of the local industry in Malawi.
CDEDDI says if the Tonse Alliance administration is really serious about uplifting the livelihood of the poor Malawians, it should start implementing policies that resonate well with the local people such as scrapping off the 16.5 percent VAT on cooking oil.
The organization it is giving the Tonse Alliance Government seven  days to scrap off VAT on cooking oil, find other means of generating revenue from the local manufacturers, commence a review of its tax regime in order to revise all the taxes that are choking the local industry and hitting hard on the ordinary Malawians, 80 percent of whom are living in rural areas and depend on subsistence farming.
In a statement dated 3rd April, 2021, signed by its Executive Director, Sylvester Namiwa, CDEDI is warning the Tonse Alliance Administration that should this demand land on deaf ears, it will be left with no choice but to mobilize all Malawians of goodwill to hold nationwide demonstrations, until such demands are adhered to.
CDEDI says it has noted with concern about the Tonse Alliance government’s continued disregard for the poor people in the country, introducing tax regimes that have ended up punishing the poor people through loss of jobs, increase of prices for basic goods and services saying the 16.5 percent VAT on cooking oil has pushed up the cost of living and has turned most poor people into scavengers.
The organization says today, an average Malawian cannot afford to buy the locally produced cooking oil since the prices have sky-rocketed to 100 percent price adjustment, CDEDI is challenging all Malawians of goodwill to join a crusade to force the Tonse Alliance Government under President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera to start championing pro-poor policies in order to protect the marginalized from hazardous smuggled edible oils that have flooded the local market.
CDEDI says it has come to believe that there is either general neglect of duties by some officers in the law enforcement agencies responsible for containing the influx of both illegal goods and immigrants into the country or the Tonse Alliance administration is deliberately introducing the punitive tax regimes in order to suffocate the local industry in an attempt to bring in their own preferred business interests.
…”The recent closure of private companies such as the Kanengo Tobacco Processors Limited in Lilongwe and the announcement of Bakhresa Grouping Company that they are closing their soap making plant in Mzuzu, is very worrisome…,’’ reads the statement in part.
CDEDI is reiterating its stand against punitive tax regime that end up punishing the vulnerable and the marginalized Malawians who are in majority in the country.
By Vincent Gunde