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Eight containers full of synthetic turf, goalposts and other football material have been held in Maputo port for the past year because the Mozambican Football Federation (FMF) has failed to pay the required customs duties, reports the independent television station STV.
The equipment was donated by the African Football Confederation (CAF) and should have been installed in various football fields across the country. Ten containers arrived in December 2015. The FMF found the money to release two of them, and sent the equipment to the football academy in Namaacha, on the border with Swaziland
The other eight containers have been sitting in the Maputo Port container terminal for a year, accumulating storage charges. After the end of the storage period permitted by the port, each container is charged the equivalent of 100 US dollars a day. The total costs have now reached 22 million meticais (about 306,000 US dollars).
The chairperson of the Mozambique Tax Authority (AT), Amelia Nakhare, has no intention of giving privileged treatment to the FMF. Four months ago the AT announced, through a warning published in the daily paper ‘Noticias’, that the contents of the containers would be sold at public auction.
Still the FMF did not pay the customs duties and the storage charges. Interviewed by STV, Nakhare insisted that the material will indeed go to auction, just like any other goods abandoned in the port.
“What we are demanding is the payment of the customs duties”, she said. “Imports must be processed and the duties must be paid. The FMF requested exemptions – but it did so when the goods were already in the port”.
The FMF had based its request for exemption from duty on the fact that the goods are a donation. But donated goods are not necessarily free of Mozambican taxes. “The donation is made outside of our territory”, said Nakhare. “But when it enters our territory, it is valued and there is a component of duties to be paid”.
The Minister of Youth and Sport, Alberto Nkutumula, said the case has not reached the government – and even if the FMF does appeal to the government, there is nothing his Ministry can do since the rules laid down by the International Football Federation (FIFA) prohibit governments from intervening in the running of national football bodies.
“The government intervenes to finance and support the sports federations, and to audit the accounts resulting from that finance”, the Minister added. “Outside of that, we are not allowed to interfere in the management of the federations”.
In March, the government, through its Sports Promotion Fund (FPD), signed contract-programmes to finance activities of various Mozambican sports federations. The money the government made available was 50 per cent less than in 2015, due to the financial crisis Mozambique has faced this year.
The amount allocated to the federations fell from 54 million meticais in 2015 to just over 27 million meticais this year. The slice going to the FMF fell from nine to five million meticais.
Asked whether this cut was why the FMF did not rescue the containers from Maputo port, Nkutumula said “I would not like to answer questions concerning the internal management of the federations”.