Removal of tax on broadcasting equipment commendable-MISA Malawi
MISA Malawi would like to commend government for removing tax on radio and television broadcasting equipment, which we believe will help develop the broadcasting industry in Malawi.
Minister of Finance Joseph Mwanamvekha, in his presentation of the 2020/21 National Budget in Parliament on Friday June 12, 2020, said government had introduced a ‘Customs Procedure Code’ to allow duty free importation of television and radio communication equipment in order to improve access to information and promote establishment of television and radio stations in the country.
The removal of duty on television and radio equipment follows successful lobbying by MISA Malawi and the Malawi media for government to scrape off duty on broadcasting equipment. We have also been lobbying for removal of VAT on newsprint, which is however still in force.
The removal of duty on broadcasting equipment will help broadcasters acquire high quality equipment at reduced prices.
We would however like to point out that promoting access to information requires a holistic approach which should include tackling all challenges that impede access to information. We believe this includes scraping off VAT on newsprint and effective implementation of the legislation on ATI.
It is a well-known fact in Malawi that newspapers, which are essential to democracy, access to information by the public, holding leaders accountable, are struggling with circulation figures because of the tough economic environment prevailing in the country, general lack of disposable income as well as high illiteracy levels among Malawians. Extending the duty free clause to newsprint will be a clear demonstration of government’s commitment to media freedom and access to information.
We therefore expect government consider scrapping off duty on newsprint but also set the date for the implementation of the ATI Act.
Only then will we celebrate that government is sincere and committed to the promotion of access to information and free expression in Malawi.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) was founded in 1996. Its work focuses on promoting, and advocating for, the unhindered enjoyment of freedom of expression, access to information and a free, independent, diverse and pluralistic media.