MAPUTO, Mozambique (PANA) - THE United States Agency for International Development (USAID) warned Mozambique Wednesday it would halt all commercial food aid unless there was satisfactory investigation into huge losses of maize in Maputo port towards the end of 1995.
The exact amount that vanished is unknown. But the initial figure given by the United States was 1,407 tonnes. Maputo Port officials said that maybe "only" 500 tonnes was missing.
The USAID Maputo office said Wednesday it wanted investigators "to identify the individuals involved in removing these commodities from the port."
It also wants the food recovered or for the individuals involved to fully compensate the Mozambican government for the losses. The agency is also asking for new procedures at the port to safeguard all commodities. "Losses of the magnitude suffered in the recent deliveries of usaid-financed maize are clearly so large that they must have required a high degree of organisation and planning among the perpetrators of this crime," the agency said.
The United States is Mozambique's major food aid donor. Yellow maize from the U.S. is a mainstay of Mozambique's commercial food distribution system. This maize is sold, largely to urban consumers and generates counterpart funds in local currency, which make an important contribution to the Mozambican state budget.
The Mozambian press has for many years reported on corruption and negligence at Maputo Port.
-0- PANA AIM PF/OSS
ENG035 from SSS.072 (960124-16:52)
QN ENGPANA PANATRA