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Chinese entrepreneurs involved in the purchase, processing and export of timber in Sofala province are worried about the extent to which activity will only be carried out by forest concessionaires from next week.
About 30 companies affiliated with the Chinese Merchants Association in Sofala expressed concern yesterday during a meeting with provincial governor Maria Helena Taipo to discuss the operation and the contribution of firms to the Government’s Five Year Programme, especially to economic growth in this part of the country.
Figures indicate that 80 percent of milling and timber exports are concentrated in Sofala and involve around 5,000 Mozambican workers, hence their importance to the national economy.
Much money is channelled to Sofala through Chinese timber companies. According to Sofala government spokesman Hélcio Canda, if the activities are to be carried out only by forestry concessionaires, the province may lose half a million dollars of investment in the sector next year.
Over the past three years, the region has seen around US$250 million invested through a number of Chinese projects.
The chairman of the Association of Chinese Traders in Sofala, Zhuo Jiye, said that the measure limiting the processing and export to forest concessionaires was indicated to the association during a meeting recently held with the Ministry of Land, Environment and Rural Development.
Canda however stated that the government had not yet issued any official communication on the decision, which was likely to come into effect only next year. He said that the Sofala government would liaise with the institution of Land, Environment and Rural Development on how to implement the measure effectively and without affect relations between the two countries.
He argued that standards should be interpreted in a way that did not cause constraints.
“There are aspects of the law that are directly related to the processing and export of timber, which are disturbing the owners of the Chinese enterprises in Sofala, which must be deepened in view of the impact they have on the economy of the province and the country. The situation is also of concern to the government, since there is a need to safeguard cooperation between the two peoples and foreign investments,” Canda said.
The provincial government supported discipline, rigour, compliance with the law and the provision social responsibility investment in communities, he added.
Other concerns presented by the Association of Chinese Merchants in Sofala related to delays in licensing processes, which, they said, jeopardised activities. Zhuo Jiye pointed out centralisation of the process did not allow for flexibility in business registration.
Spokesman Canda replied that the government of Sofala had expressed concern that decentralisation should be effective in making economic activities more flexible.
The association also mentioned that some companies had made advance payments to the Mozambican Customs for the export of a quantity of wooden containers which did not ga ahead, and was currently demanding the return of the money.
The sum involved was not mentioned.
“The Mozambican Tax Authority owes certain amounts of money to Chinese traders. The government has recommended that an in-depth study be carried out on a case-by-case listing of the debt and, consequently, a refund paid to the respective parties. The Sofala government will continue to cooperate with the private sector in pursuit of economic development,” Canda said.
Zhuo Jiye said that the Association of Chinese Merchants in Sofala had been urging Chinese companies operating in the area to follow legislation in all particulars, including the provision of social responsibility investment in the communities in which they operate.Source: Diário de Moçambique
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