Tue. Sep 17th, 2019

Farmers trade barbs with Mutharika on the removal of withholding tax

By Brian Kanyenda
Farmers in the country have bemoaned government’s directive to Malawi Revenue Authority—MRA of removing withholding tax to smallholder tobacco farmers selling less than 10 bales of tobacco saying the decision not a solution to challenges farmers face.
State president Peter Mutharika has made the order when he and his Tanzanian counterpart, president John Joseph Magufuli, who visited the country in a short stay, officially commissioned the 2019 tobacco selling season at Kanengo Auction Floors in Lilongwe.
According to Mutharika said that the edict has come as an austerity measure to ensure economic stamina in the country and on the other hand motivating smallholder farmer to benefit from their sweat.
Among other promises president Mutharika said his government effective Thursday, 24th April, will introduce rural factories and banks to benefit farmers living in the rural areas.
However the promises have ensued mixed reactions among farmers with some saying this is welcomed development and some describing the decision as politically motivated.
Farmers Union of Malawi President Alfred Kapichira Banda said farmers are not amused with the decision saying the announcement has come to  entice farmers to vote for ruling Democratic Progressive Party in the next month’s elections.
According to Kapichira Banda the idea has just been put in place for Mutharika and his party to gain political mileage on top of smallholder tobacco farmer
“I don’t think that this will assist the farmers because most of the farmers in the country, today, they grow tobacco in their associations.
There is no way an association can send ten bales as it comprises of 30 to 40 people”
“This is just politics, don’t forget we are in campaign period, so this is one of the ways to entice voters,” said Kapichira Banda.
On tobacco prices Kapichira Banda said farmers are anticipating for good tobacco prices in this year’s green gold marketing season.
The first day of this year’s marketing season has seen the gold leaf attracting the maximum amount of $2.40 and lowest being $1.60 a slight difference from last year’s selling prices.

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