SUGAM PETITIONS MALAWI GOVERNMENT TO REVOKE SUGAR IMPORT LICENSE

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SUGAM PETITIONS MALAWI GOVERNMENT TO REVOKE SUGAR IMPORT LICENSE

SUGAM Board Members with Members of Parliament after presenting their petition

Sugarcane Growers Association of Malawi (SUGAM) petitioned the government of Malawi to revoke the license it issued to an investor to import into Malawi 20,000 metric tons of sugar. The petition was presented through the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture on 10th January 2018 after it transpired that the government of Malawi had issued the sugar import license and it happened at a time when there was no shortage of sugar in the country.

Speaking during the presentation of the petition, the SUGAM Chairman said “smallholder sugarcane growing business in Malawi has been a huge impact on the economy of the country. We contribute to the economy of the country by paying taxes and in 2017 alone we contributed K332 million ($451, 700.00) in Withholding tax and K1.8 billion ($2.4 million) in VAT. Many companies that provide management services to the farmers pay corporation taxes in addition to the above. Through our farming, we have provided employment to those who work at various stages of the value chain.”

He further said the importation of sugar into Malawi will create excess supply of the product and eventually have serious consequences among them:

  • A reduction in our income by approximately K1.6 billion ($2.1 Million). This will impact on our ability to support and provide for our families, sending children to school, providing for their needs as well as supporting the extended families.
  • Affect our financial capability and means of repaying the commitments that we have with the banks. If we are unable to repay and the banks decide to enforce their security, most of our members will become destitute.
  • Reduce the contribution we make to the government through taxes.
  • Reduce employment as we will cut back on the number of people we need in the value chain.

The SUGAM Board members then appealed to the MPs to do the following:

  • Impress upon the Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, using his powers to revoke the sugar import permit with immediate effect.
  • In future, should there be a need in the national interest to import sugar, the ministry will engage smallholder sugarcane growers before issuing any licenses so that we are prepared for the impact of the decision.
  • Create a conducive business environment for the smallholder sugarcane farmers to thrive through the passing into law the Sugar Bill and enacting the Goods Act.

***The government of Malawi has since revoked the license and the Principle Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism had written to SUGAM about the development.

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