5 December 2017

Mozambique: Senior Customs Official Assaulted

Maputo — Unknown assailants have attacked and seriously injured the head of the Maputo International Maritime Goods Terminal (TIMAR).

The chairperson of the Mozambique Tax Authority (AT), Amelia Nakhare, cited in Tuesday's issue of the independent newssheet “Mediafax”, announced the attack, at a parade of customs staff that she chaired on Monday in Maputo port. She said the attack had taken place on Thursday morning at the victim's home in the southern city of Matola.

“Our colleague is in hospital, and has undergone an operation on his head”, said Nakhare. “The doctors say that his state of health is evolving positively”.

“The information from his family is that he went out to prepare his vehicle very early in the morning, and that's when he was attacked”, she continued. “We don't have any details on what motivated the assault, but we believe the police are doing their job”.

TIMAR is of critical importance to the country's finances. Nakhare said it accounts for 40 per cent of all Mozambican customs revenue. “It is fundamental that TIMAR does not stop”, she said, “and we must guarantee that the pace of work does not slow down as a result of what has happened”.

She announced the formation of a new team that will run the terminal while the TIMAR head is recovering from his injuries. “In the customs service, we are paramilitary”, said Nakhare. “We must always have a commander, and when one falls on the field of battle, another must be appointed immediately”.

“We are now in December, which is a critical month”, she added. “We have had to put someone into the management of the institution, who could carry it forward at an ever more accelerated pace. We've appointed the northern regional director to work with the team”.

Nakhare expressed concern that, at the current pace, the target for revenue collection at TIMAR this year will not be met. That target is 34 billion meticais (about 567 million US dollars), but so far only 24.6 billion meticais has been collected.

“The level of revenue collection is still not satisfactory”, said Nakhare. “By the end of November we had reached 70 per cent of the target, and the month December will not be enough to collect the other 30 per cent”.

She blamed much of the problem on processes pending. Of the 1,000 or so manifestos from cargo ships that had entered the port since January, only 220 had been closed “so we still have a very large margin”.

At the “Single Electronic Window” (JUE), the computerised system that was supposed to make customs procedures very simple, about 20,000 cases are still pending, Nakhare said.

“If we manage to regularise these pending cases, we shall bring in a lot of revenue”, she added.

Much of the customs revenue at TIMAR comes from the import of vehicles, and there has been a reduction in vehicle imports over the past two years. However, car imports are now picking up again, and she hoped this will “galvanise revenue from the port”.

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