MRA Commisioner General John Biziwick
* It is mandated to not even spare the Commissioner General himself in its investigations on corruption
* Including nepotism, sexual harassment in order to foster an ethical and high-performance culture
* Also mandated to audit staff lifestyle; asset verification of declared assets and liabilities
* Internal Affairs Division is most common in developed world in security agencies, tax revenue authority and other public institutions
By Duncan Mlanjira
In order to strengthen staff integrity and in its zero tolerance stance on corruption, Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) dismissed 15 officers based on corruption-related issues in 2021/22 fiscal year following successful investigations done by the newly-established Internal Affairs Division.
This was disclosed by MRA’s Commissioner General, John Biziwick on Wednesday at a press briefing held at Sunbird Mount Soche Hotel where he announced revenue performance for April 2022 and other measures and initiatives the Authority is undertaken.
The measures and initiatives include the establishment of the Internal Affairs Division that is mandated to not even spare the Commissioner General himself in its investigations on corruption, nepotism, sexual harassment in order to foster an ethical and high-performance culture.
Internal Affairs Division — most common in developed world in security agencies, tax revenue authority and other public institutions — is also mandated to audit staff lifestyle; asset verification of declared assets and liabilities as well as checking on background investigation (vetting) of all prospective employees.
The Division is manned by highly trained forensic investigators — some of whom have vast experience having worked for Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau.
Other measures taken is the enhancement of Tip-off Anonymous, through which the whistle blowers’ identity is protected and are also rewarded for all verified tip-offs after investigations.
The public is also encouraged to engage with MRA officers on services they need through their Call Centre toll free line 672 and also utilising the Msonkho Online, which is an integrated tax compliance system.
With Msonkho Online — under the theme ‘Tax Made Simple’ — one can pay taxes in the comfort of their offices or homes ; file tax; access tax services 24/7 and register for taxes on faster service.
Biziwick, who pledged to commit himself in continued engagement with the media — saying such interface meetings would be held every fiscal quarter for revenue performance updates — said the strengthening of the organisational culture is aimed at preparing MRA to adapt and adopt change brought by reform initiatives.
It is also aimed at building a performance-driven and customer eccentric culture that would help to boost a working environment and productivity; improve customer service and increase employee satisfaction.
On effective risk management, Biziwick said MRA “will continue to identify, assess, rank and mitigate all compliance risks through profiling before audit and physical examination.
Operational risks include setting up of disaster recovery site, unlimited power supply (UPS); fire protection system while also continuing training staff to avert human capital risks.
The Commissioner General was accompanied by high ranking officers, that included Head of Corporate Affairs, Steve Kapoloma, who also disclosed that they are working hand in hand with Ministry of Education which has included tax education in primary and secondary school’s subject of Social & Environmental Studies.
“This is aimed at inculcating the culture of tax compliance in the young minds in which they are taught the benefits of paying taxes which help the government carry out its development projects that include providing excellent education services,” Kapoloma said.
He added credence that the Authority is also set to continue to improve its relationship with stakeholders — the taxpayer; intermediaries; government Ministries, Agencies and Departments (MDAs); donors and the media.
As well as stakeholder engagement plan involving Parliament; Bankers Association of Malawi, commercial tobacco and tea growers; corporate social responsibility responses and branding initiatives — that include signage; staff uniform; offices in order to increase presence and positive associations.
Kapoloma encouraged the media to engage with MRA in its own investigations in order to delve deeper into matters, saying the Authority is willing to provide resources to unearth smuggling as well as providing media tours to appreciate initiatives and projects being undertaken.
“We want to create a solid partnership because the media should play a big role in sensitising the public on tax compliance, which in turn finances government’s development projects,” he said.