SME sector faults Duty-Free Week timing

Cargo scanner at Mwanza border

Although the Chamber of Small and Medium Business Associations has welcomed government’s declaration of the Duty-Free Week, it has however faulted its timing arguing that January is a month when businesses are just picking up.

The Chamber’s Executive Secretary James Chiutsi was reacting to the impending Duty-Free Week which will run from 23 -29 January, 2022 in an interview with Kulinji.com.

Through the initiative, only goods whose customs value for duty purpose does not exceed US$3000; and only those imported and entered for clearance during the duty free week shall qualify for suspension of duties under regulation three.

Chiutsi indicated that oftentimes the SME sector complain of high taxes which impacts on production costs making them sell their products at high prices just to realise some profits.

While expressing optimism towards the initiative, he spoke on some of its reservations.

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Chiutsi: It should be at time when business is booming not in a month like January

“To begin with, its very short notice honestly one needs to prepare well to derive maximum benefits from this; secondly indeed the month of January we all know that business is just starting to pick up, this is the time that people have come back from holidays. Actually in other countries where we do business with, others are still on holiday.

“So it’s not a very good timing. Apart from that, we also know the effects of COVID on the ground so all these are negatively impacting the week.

“But honestly it’s a good idea, it’s a good initiative that we welcome but these things need to be looked at; adequate notice and then the timing, it should be at time when business is booming not in a month like January where people are just coming up from the holidays” explained Chiutsi  

He nonetheless hailed the programme as it will help the sector to reduce costs therefore pass on the benefits to customers but wished it was extended probably to a whole month.

Chiutsi stated that they intend to engage the concerned government departments such as the Ministry of Trade, Finance and the Malawi Revenue Authority to air their grievances which he indicated listen to some of their concerns.