MAPUTO, — Mozambique’s Tax Authority (AT) has collected 35.6 billion meticais (about 672 million US dollars, at current exchange rates) in the first quarter of this year, says its Chairperson, Amelia Nakhare, cited in Tuesday’s issue of the Maputo daily, Noticias.

Informing Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario on Friday of the current tax collection situation, Nakhare said the amount collected in the first three months of the year was about 20 per cent of the annual target of 176 billion meticais.

She assured the Prime Minister that everything was being done to surpass the target, despite the adverse circumstances facing the Mozambican economy.

She based her optimism on the fact that more money was collected in January-March this year than in the same period of 2015 when the amount reached 31 billion meticais.

However, Nakhare warned of unfavourable factors, including the depreciation of the national currency, the metical, natural disasters, notable the drought hitting southern and central Mozambique, and the military tensions between government forces and the rebel movement, Renamo.

She said the AT was relying on inspections of establishments and auditing their invoices in order to ensure that all Value Added Tax (VAT) owed was collected. Currently VAT accounts for 40 per cent of all revenue collected.

Nakhare’s major concern was the decline in revenue from taxation on foreign trade. She thought one way of obtaining more revenue for the State would be by speeding up the auctions of goods seized as contraband or for other irregularities.

She said the AT was working with the Customs service and the Customs Court to speed up the auctions.

Another measure is to register more citizens as taxpayers. Although Mozambique’s total population is around 25 million, only 4.2 million possess the tax identification number (NUIT) which should be attributed to all taxpayers.

The AT’s target is to increase the number of people with NUITs to five million by the end of this year.