Sunday, May 26, 2024

Credible Investments Limited rubbishes CDEDI’s malicious claims on firms’ operations

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LILONGWE-One of the country’s cigarettes manufacturing company Credible Investments Limited (CIL) has dared Centre Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) to produce concrete evidence that the company produces and sells counterfeit, illegal and expired products on Malawi market.

The company’s statement issued on Tuesday, April 9, 2024, made available to the local media has accused CDEDI of hopeless to drag the company down with malicious claims.

In the statement signed by its Executive Director, Abbas Nasser observes that CDEDI has no basis to claim that the firm produces counterfeit products, including its brand Ceasar Cigarettes.

Abbas is responding to CDEDI Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa’s press conference held on Thursday, April 4, 2024 at Korea Gardens in Lilongwe which claimed that CIL sells expired, illegal and counterfeit products on the market, evades taxes and employs illegal immigrants.

“On legal status, Credible Investments Limited (CIL) is company registered under the laws of Malawi and licensed to produce Caesar Cigarettes since March 2022. Caesar Cigarettes are manufactured and packaged at the company’s factory at Njewa in Lilongwe. CIL’s parent company is registered in the Republic of South Africa and also supplies Caesar Cigarettes to countries including Zambia, Mozambique, South Africa and the DRC.

“On certification, our products are certified by the Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS), who continuously monitor and inspect our factory and products in accordance with their regulatory mandate. Sometime in September 2023, our attention was brought to the presence of counterfeit products on the market being sold without MBS’s pre-certified labelling and expiry dates. In addition to taking appropriate steps to apprehend the culprits, we immediately alerted MBS and shared with them relevant information and our concerns,” reads CIL statement in part.

Abbas adds, “It is unfortunate that CDEDI, in pursuit of whatever agenda they have against CIL, chose to withhold this information from the public and to, instead, falsely allege that it is our company distributing counterfeit products in competition with our own genuine Caesar Cigarettes.

“As we continue to take all legal measures to flush out counterfeit products similar to ours across the country and to ensure that our customers enjoy our quality and genuine products, we appeal to our customers to report to us or to Police or MBS of any counterfeit products that they come across for appropriate action”.

On taxation, Abbas explains, “The Company is registered for all applicable taxes and files all required returns and declarations with the Malawi Revenue Authority. All our selling points operate with the required fiscal devices and issue VAT receipts for all sales. We pay all applicable taxes.

“CDEDI’s allegations of tax evasion are false and without any factual or legal basis. We challenge CDEDI to bring forward to us evidence of any sale carried out in contravention of tax laws”.

On workers, CIL stated, “Our staff compliment includes local workers and foreign nationals with work permits issued in accordance with applicable immigration and labour laws. An inspection recently carried out by the Immigration Department following CDEDI’s false allegations verified and cleared our company of any wrongdoing. We also want to dispute CDEDI claims that CIL runs two shifts for workers. It’s only one shift in a week working hours.

“We challenge CDEDI to bring forward to us evidence of any CIL employee working without a valid permit. There is no truth in any of CDEDI’s claims, which are apparently intended to cast our company in bad light with the obvious effect of disrupting our business and the markets for our products for the benefit of parties only CDEDI can identify. The deliberate misinformation is malicious and unfortunate”.

On March 5, 2024, CDEDI claimed to have engaged MRA director general John Biziwick requesting him to make available CIL’s value-added tax (VAT) machine duplicates for almost 400 cartons sold to various wholesalers in Central and Northern regions between January and February 2024 amounting to about K190 million.

However, CIL challenges on this claims, “We believe if CDEDI indeed found these boxes on the market, then it should be the smuggled products and not our original Caesar cigarette”.

But, in response, MRA rebuffed CDEDI, arguing, among others, that taxpayers’ personal and financial information was confidential and can only be used for purposes of carrying out lawful duties.

“We cannot comply with your request to provide information but have taken note of the allegations raised and will investigate accordingly,” reads MRA’s response, dated March 28 2024 and signed by information officer Dorothy Mataya.

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