Cameroon to Probe Cocoa-Export Disparity Hurting Tax Revenue

  • Minister alleged exporters declare lower figures to avoid tax
  • Central African nation almost tripled tax to fund output plan

Cameroon, the world’s fifth-biggest producer of cocoa, will probe allegations that shippers are reporting lower bean exports to avoid paying taxes, a move that’s hurting state revenue, Trade Minister Luc-Magloire Mbarga Atangana said.

The central African nation has set up a committee to investigate the allegations, Atangana said in an Aug. 11 interview in the southwestern town of Kumba. Officials from the National Cocoa and Coffee Board as well as the Finance Ministry will also participate, he said.

“I have received reports to the fact that exporters fraudulently declare lower figures than what they have exported,” he said, without naming any companies. The actions cut state revenue and distorts information on the size of the crop, he said.

Twenty-four companies exported Cameroonian cocoa in the marketing year that ended in July, the board said in its annual report handed to Bloomberg News on Aug. 3. They shipped 239,717 metric tons of beans in the year, 21 percent more than 12 months earlier, the data showed. The Netherlands was the biggest buyer, purchasing 76 percent, it said. Other major importers include Belgium, Germany, Italy and Spain.

Export Tax

Cameroon almost tripled export levies on cocoa to 150 CFA francs ($0.25) a kilogram (2.2 pounds) in the 2014-15 season to raise revenue for a $1 billion program to double cocoa and coffee production. The country produced 269,498 tons of the chocolate ingredient in the 2015-16 season, 16 percent more than a year earlier, Atangana said on Aug. 3.

Three exporters -- Telcar Cocoa Ltd., Olam International Ltd.’s local unit and Cameroon Marketing Commodities, known as Camaco -- sold 68 percent of beans shipped in the last marketing year, data in the board’s report showed. Spokespeople for the companies declined to comment.

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