By Arnold Namanja
Blantyre, Mana: Chairperson of Malawi Revenue Authority, Agness Katsonga Phiri, has urged Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) member countries to embrace the electronic certificate of origin, arguing that it will go a long way in addressing bottlenecks to doing business and enhance revenue collection.
Katsonga Phiri was speaking on Wednesday when she opened a two- day workshop on launching of the electronic certificate of origin at Ryalls Hotel in Blantyre which drawn participants from all revenue authorities in the SADC member states.
However, the SADC electronic certificate of origin will be implemented on a pilot basis in Malawi, Eswatini and Zambia.
Katsonga Phiri observed that most SADC countries are rated poorly on doing business index because of the procedures at the border most of which are manual based; hence, the need to migrate to digital.
“When we go digital, efficiency will be the main gain. In fact, the release time will be faster while electronic certificate of origin will make businesses grow; thereby, facilitating economic growth and I the process ensuring national development,” she said.
She added that regional integration can easily be attained through electronic certificate of origin, describing the launch of the electronic certificate of origin as long overdue.
SADC Secretariat Director of Finance, Investment and Customs, Sadwick Mtonakutha said there has been slow progress in the implementation of the electronic certificate of origin due to the Covid-19 pandemic despite getting support from the European Union and GIZ.
“The initiative of SADC enhancing trade facilitation through the electronic certificate f origin is premised on moving from manual to digital with lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic which has affected the process because there was generally a slow-down in everything,” he said.
Mtonakutha said SADC is guided by the vision 2050 which has a number of pillars including the peace, security and good governance, industrialization and market integration and social development and human capital development all of which are meant to support efforts of regional integration.
He said apart from the electronic certificate of origin, other instruments to facilitate trade in SADC include the simplified trade regime, the one stop border post and the free trade area, among others.