Maputo — The Mozambican customs service has seized 38 containers full of raw cashew nuts that were being smuggled out of the country from the northern port of Nacala, without paying the export surtax, reports Wednesday's issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”.
The containers held 589 tonnes of nuts, which were being exported to India. Vicente Marcos, head of the Communication and Image Department in the Mozambique Tax Authority (AT) said the exporters had declared the cargo as beans, which do not pay any export surtax. The fraud was discovered by what he described as routine inspection activities by customs brigades.
The surtax on raw cashews is a measure intended to protect Mozambique's own cashew processing industry. The value of the nuts in the 38 containers was put at just short of 40.58 million meticais (about 891,000 US dollars, at current exchange rates). Marcos said that surtax of 7.3 million meticais should have been paid on this. The case is now with the Customs Tribunal. In the event of proven tax evasion, the exporter will be obliged to pay the surtax owing, and the nuts will be forfeit to the state. At the start of the current cashew marketing campaign, the director of the government's National Cashew Institute (INCAJU), Filomena Muaiopue, speaking in the Nampula district of Muecate, stressed that government policy is to process nuts locally, rather than sending the raw nuts to be processed in India.
After the collapse of the cashew processing industry in the 1990s, caused by the World Bank's onslaught against protection for the industry, there has been a revival, and a substantial number of small and medium sized cashew processing plants have been set up in recent years. “Today we have many factories that process our cashew nuts”, said Muaiopue. “So we don't want our cashews exported raw, while we have industries across the country which can process them, and thus create jobs for Mozambican citizens”.