04 Jun

Malawi media giant defies closure by gov’t over unpaid taxes

Malawi’s biggest privately owned media company, Times Group has defied a closure by the country’s tax body.

The Group which runs newspapers, a radio and a television station was closed by Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) officials on Friday over accumulated tax arrears.

Times Group’s editor in chief, George Kasakula, however linked the move to the organisation’s criticism of the government and said MRA had ignored a court injunction that would have stopped the closure of its main office in Blantyre over a tax compliance dispute.

“This is not about taxes but about frustrating us because of our critical editorial policy,” Kasakula told Reuters.

“While other companies are allowed negotiations over tax issues, Times Group gets no such fair treatment.”

“This is not about stifling media freedoms and frustrating Times Group because of their critical editorial policy. It’s about them failing to pay taxes,” said government spokesman Nicholas Dausi.

A governance expert, Makhumbo Munthali faulted both sides, specifically asking the media group to honor its tax obligations in order to safeguard its ‘fearless work exposing government failings’.

‘‘While it is a a fact that MRA’s decision is politically motivated, the failure of Times Group to faithfully honour its tax obligations is regrettable and must be condemned in the strongest terms,’‘ Munthali said.

Malawi News which is one of the newspapers run by Times Group hit the streets on Saturday, bearing a banner headline, ‘Witchhunt’, in reference to the MRA closure action. News articles have also continued to be published on the Times website.

In December last year, the group’s operations were shut down by MRA over the same Value Added tax arrears amounting to K675m ($933,000), accumulated between 2011 and 2016. The company resumed operations within 24 hours.

Freedom House, a non-governmental organisation which ranks press freedom worldwide, classified impoverished Malawi as “partly free” in its 2017 ranking.

In 2012 the Malawian government warned journalists and human rights activists that people who insulted the president faced prosecution. A prominent journalist was arrested that year, and some media firms were closed.

Source: http://www.africanews.com/2018/06/03/malawi-media-giant-defies-closure-by-tax-body-over-unpaid-taxes/

11 Jan

UK and Malawi renew their strong historic ties

New High Commissioner to Malawi, Holly Tett, presents her credentials while reaffirming UK’s commitment to Malawi

LILONGWE, Malawi, January 11, 2017

The new British High Commissioner to Malawi, Holly Tett, says the deep and strong bilateral relations between the UK and Malawi will be more important during this time that the countries are experiencing major changes like Brexit and the pushing of a reform agenda respectively.

The UK currently runs a £150 million (approximately K150 billion) development programme in Malawi to help progress and lift her people out of poverty

Ms Tett was speaking to local press at Kamuzu Palace in the capital Lilongwe shortly after presenting her letters of credence to President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika.

Accompanied by her partner Mark Kalch and the deputy High Commissioner Stephen Phillips, Ms Tett said that as a long-standing development partner of Malawi, the UK will continue supporting Malawi in a range of priorities.

“I talked to the President about a really true historic friendship that Malawi and UK have; we talked about deepening that friendship through what will be period of significant changes like Brexit in UK and as the President pushes through his reform agenda,” said Ms Tett.

Ms Tett said she will support Malawi to deal with the current humanitarian crisis (where the UK has already provided £43 million, approximately K43 billion), to continue with the momentum of the reform agenda and a broad range of priorities like education, health and issues that affect women, girls and children, and to further boost the sporting links between the two countries.

Holly Tett succeeds Michael Nevin whose tour of duty ended in September last year. Before her arrival into the country earlier this month, Simon Mustard served as the UK’s temporary High Commissioner. The UK currently runs a £150 million (approximately K150 billion) development programme in Malawi to help progress and lift her people out of poverty.