Thursday, 10 December 2015

Customs N1.2b Rice Revenue Challenges Senate’s Suspension Order

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By Airahuobhor
Barely one week after Nigerian Senate ordered Nigeria Customs Service to suspend rice imports
through the land borders, the Service has announced a total revenue of N1,178,720,376 on the
commodity through the land borders in October and November 2015.
During the same period, the total quantity of rice imported through the land borders stood at 17.596
million Metric Tonnes.
Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd) disclosed the figures at a strategy session
he convened to review revenue performance for the year.
“ The huge collection in just two months has vindicated our position. If we had stuck to our
previous directive, this much quantum of rice would still have been smuggled anyway, and we
would have lost over a billion Naira revenue as this critical period of our economic downtown” , the
CGC said.
Two months ago, the Comptroller-General of the Service had approved the removal of the
restriction placed on importation of Rice through the land borders shortly after assuming office,
sparking public criticism. Many condemned the decision on the premise that it would discourage
further investments in local production, which federal government sought to achieve with the
restriction order.
The removal by Col. Hameed was predicated on the large scale rice smuggling through the land
borders, resulting in huge revenue loss and distortions in the price of the item in the local markets.
The breakdown of the Rice imports shows that Idiroko border in Ogun Command has the largest
volume of 8.276 Metric tonnes, with a collection of N555,152,344 duty. Katsina Borders come next
in quantity of 3,636 Metric tones imported, where total revenue of N242,985,626 was collected
during the same period.
A total of 2.156 metric tones was imported through the land borders of Oyo/Osun command,
generating a total revenue of N144,278,025.
Other Commands include: Seme – 2,140 Metric Tonnes with N143,349,658, Sokoto – 602 Metric
Tonnes with N40,162,759;
Kano/Jigawa – 470 Metric Tonnes with N31,536,148;
Adamawa/Taraba – 248 Metric Tonnes with N16,545,422;
Niger/Kwara/Kogi – 68 Metric Tonnes with N4,710,394.
Meanwhile, Senators unanimously took the decision to suspend the importation of the commodity
through the land borders insisting that it must only come inn through the seaports till further notice.
They argued that considering the huge costs resulting from paying duty to Nigeria and Benin
Republic, anybody importing through the land borders must have an ulterior motive to cheat
government.
With the huge revenue recorded within two months from rice, will the federal government
reconsider allowing rice imports through land borders especially now that the country seeks
inncreased revenue?
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