Illovo Sugar (Malawi) plc has decried the influx of smuggled imported sugar, saying it threatens the economy and consumers’ lives.
The Malawi Stock Exchange (MSE)-listed sugar manufacturer has since called for continued efforts to curb the malpractice.
The firm’s managing director Mark Bainbridge said in an interview on the sidelines of the company’s annual general meeting in Blantyre on Wednesday that the listed sugar manufacturer is affected by the development, which, he said, is also hurting the economy.
He said the company is working towards ensuring that it continues to grow its customer base and fight on competitive grounds.
Said Bainbridge: “We are faced with the challenge where imported sugar is reported to continue to be sneaked into the country.
“We are, however, pleased with authorities’ swift move to counter this problem because if left unchecked it would pin down government revenues as well as our profitability.”
He said smuggled sugar also poses a threat to consumers’ health as most of it is not fortified with Vitamin A.
Recently, Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) seized 487 bales of imported sugar concealed in five truckloads of salt that passed through Mwanza Border.
MRA head of corporate affairs Steven Kapoloma said in an interview that besides depriving government of revenue, smuggling distorts market prices, thereby exposing traders to unfair competition which might lead to the collapse of local industries.
He said MRA continues to step up its law enforcement efforts by actively detecting contraband and combating smuggling.
In Malawi, importation of sugar requires an import licence issued by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism.
Sugar is one of the country’s forex earners and Illovo Sugar (Malawi) plc, which has a 97 percent market share, employs about 9 500 people.