Stakeholders react to Tobacco Industry Bill

Key stakeholders in the tobacco industry have expressed mixed reactions to the just passed Tobacco Industry Bill that is set to modernise the production of tobacco, the country’s main forex earner.

Tobacco Association ofMalawi (Tama) chief executive officer Felix Thole explained that the bill hasmanaged to take care of a lot of their issues that were raised during theconsultations but they will seek clarification on how some levies could bepaid.

Tobacco is Malawi’s main export earner

He, however, said Tama would only like to get clearance on how the farmers will be paying affiliation levy to the farmer associations that have been established in the bill.

“In the past, a farmer was being deducted at the point of sale [source] at the auctions floors and everything has been going on smoothly, we are not protesting the affiliation fees but the modalities of its collection because the Bill states that the associations should be collecting the fees,” he said.

Japan Tobacco International (JTI) Malawi corporate affairs and communications director Limbani Kakhome said the passing of the Bill by Parliament is a very important milestone for the future of the country’s tobacco industry.

On the Bill’s barring of buying companies, including JTI Malawi, from operating tobacco markets, Kakhome said the clause portrays a creation of unnecessary barriers of entry into the value chain.

Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) chief executive officer Kayisi Sadala said the Bill provides wide spectrum of regulation as it has included other players which were missed in the previous Acts and that farmer interests have been safeguarded.

The new bill among others seeks to bring sanity in the tobacco sector and will address various issues including the Integrated Production system (IPS) which is new and how penalties will be meted out to those to be found on wrong side of the act.

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