Operators lament ‘punitive’ mobile tax hike

22 Jun 2012

Malawian mobile operators have criticised an increase in corporate tax on the wireless sector to 33% from the standard rate of 30%, calling the move unfair and unjustified, The Business Times cites senior officials at Airtel Malawi and Telekom Networks Malawi (TNM) as saying. The tax rise on the sector was announced by Finance Minister Ken Lipenga earlier this month in his 2012/13 budget statement to parliament. Describing the tax as ‘punitive’, Airtel Malawi’s managing director Saulos Chilima said: ‘It is unfortunate that we [mobile operators] have been singled out [for the tax rise]. There is an element of discrimination here which is of concern to us as a company.’ He added that cellular operators, under the initiative of the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI), will meet Lipenga to discuss the matter and ask the government to review the tax. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the country’s other operational cellco, TNM, called the tax on the mobile sector unjustified. ‘Our capital investment is huge and this increase will have an impact on some investments that may have gone into the network. The impact may not be apparent now but certainly in the near future, this will be felt,’ Wilma Chalulu commented. Malawi has one of the lowest mobile penetration rates in Africa, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database. The rate stood at around 24% of the population at the end of March 2012, less than half the average wireless penetration for the region (65%).

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