Times Group Sealed Once More Over Unpaid Taxes

Times Group being sealed

The media giant, Times Group, is in a deep financial crisis to the extent that the company is failing to pay its bank loans, MRA taxes, employees pensions and salaries on time.

The failure to pay taxes, including Pay As You Earn taxes which management deducts from employees, has moved the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) to seal offices and confiscate vehicles.

Last time MRA brought Times to book they obtained an injunction against the tax collector, which Times lost in court thereby promoting MRA to proceed with its action.

The company is in the mess because it borrowed huge amounts of money to start a television station and buy printing machine which never worked.

MRA had no choice on Friday but to try to force the company settle its bills. Employees were told to go home.

Times had accrued over K2 billion in unpaid taxes by the time of the last assessment. It is expected that this bill has risen much higher now.

The sealing of the offices is taking place at a time when employees have not yet received their May salaries and they wonder whether they will get their money any time soon.

Times has lately been delaying salaries, cutting down staff benefits and flouting labour practice such as providing benefits selectively.

The crisis has forced managing director Leonnard Chikadya to come up with punitive measures in an effort to keep the sinking Titanic afloat.

Our investigations reveal that the company has stopped giving fuel to sales and marketing teams. Instead he has bought small vehicles from Dubai in which he crammes the teams. The measure is not working as the teams miss appointments and fail to raise revenue for the company.

Reporters are also getting meagre fuel to chase stories, which continues to compromise the quality of stories.

The declining standards, coupled with the partisanship of media house has prompted reputable advertisers to abandon Times. Inside reporters observe that the quitting of advertisers is creating a vicious circle because the almost bankrupt company is losing even more money.

The same declining standards are also a reason why credible journalists are dumping the sinking ship.

This is creating a state of hopelessness because the company can not recover with bank debts (they cannot borrow any more), no advertisers and poor editorial quality.

Ironically, Chikadya has bought a latest Toyota Hilux twincab that runs his personal errands such as going to his farms in Mangochi while reporters have no transport

Amid the crisis and exodus of many journalists from the company in recent months, Chikadya planning to retrench the thin staff that he has. But retrenching in a media house that has suffered serious staff hemorrhage will only sink the company deeper because Times does not have any financial capacity to attract better journalists.

We have also established that sold all cars that managers were driving and he is the only one using company cars: a TX and the Hilux.

We have also established that serious advertisers have deserted the company due to its biased reporting and poor print quality.

Times further struggled to start airing Super league games as advertised refused to be associated with its partisanship.

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