The Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), has ordered the immediate removal of rice from import restriction list and the re-introduction of import duty payment at land borders.
The Public Relations Officer of customs, Wale Adeniyi, made this known yesterday in Abuja.
He said that the restriction was only applied at land border stations before now, adding that the customs boss had lifted restriction on rice at border stations.
Adeniyi said that all rice imports through land borders by rice traders would attract the prevailing import duty of 10 per cent with 60 per cent levy.
He added that rice millers (preferential levy) with valid quota allocation would also attract duty rate of 10 per cent with 20 per cent levy on rice importation.
He said: “Over the years, importation has been restricted to the seaports because border authorities have found it difficult to effectively monitor and control importation of rice. When the decision to ban it was taken it was not an effective measure because smuggling of the product thrives with people using different means of conveyance including small trucks, bicycles and even animals – putting them on donkeys and some actually carry it on their heads.
“These new measures will be for customs to reorganise their anti-smuggling operations in the border areas and ensure that all those importers through the borders bring their rice through approved routes and pay their extant duty.”
The new Customs boss is also expected to undertake his maiden visit of some Customs Commands in Lagos next week, SHIPS & PORTS DAILY can authoritatively report.
Ali’s is expected to visit Apapa, Tin Can, PTML and Western Marine among others, six weeks after his appointment as the Customs chief.
Sources however said the visit may not be unconnected to concerns raised by maritime stakeholders including clearing agents and freight forwarders over the uncertainty which has created anxiety among the officers and the alleged lack of policy direction of the new Customs administration.
According to a reliable source, Ali will during the working visit meet with officers, stakeholders including importers, clearing agents and freight forwarding practitioners.
“Every other day, he is wining and dining with Mr. President, so we hope that the closeness will better our lots. He will be meeting with the stakeholders and we are also going to outline our challenges to him when we meet him,” the source, a senior Customs officer said.
It would be recalled that a group of freight forwarders under the aegis of Concerned Accredited Freight Forwarders (CAFFA) recently expressed their disappointment towards the slow pace of Customs activities and continued extortion of agents by officers at the port and failure of the Customs Comptroller General to “hit the ground running”.
But in a message he issued to Customs officers recently, Ali said, “… this period of our National history calls for sacrifice and service. It demands from us all a new orientation and dedication to give our best to our nation. It calls for selfless service rendered in a patriotic and transparent manner.”
“Together, we must approach our statutory role of generating revenue for government, combating smuggling and facilitating trade with all seriousness it deserves.
“It is a task we all signed up for and for which we are paid salaries. It is a task that we must discharge all the time in an environment devoid of corruption and sharp practices.
“I believe you are already attuned to the new order and you know that we don’t have a choice,” he added.
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