Agents question authenticity of Customs revenue record

By Shulammite ‘Foyeku 

Some clearing agents operating at the nation’s two major seaports of Apapa and Tin Can Island have questioned the genuineness of recent figures released by the Nigeria Customs Service as revenue generated in the month of August.

The Service penultimate week said it collected N95.7billion in August 2016, a figure the Customs spokesman, Wale Adeniyi said was the highest recorded in over a decade.

He attributed the achievements to the efficacy of the Comptroller General’s policy thrust and his three point presidential mandate which are reform, restructure and increase revenue.

However, some of the agents who spoke with SHIPS & PORTS DAILY yesterday were of the opinion that the Service could not have generated such amount giving the present economic downturn in the country which has considerably reduced the volume of imports.

One of the agents, Paul Okocha who although acknowledged the recent increase in import duty exchange rate by the Service as partly being responsible for the increase, said the figures may have been manipulated to suit NCS’ aspiration for big revenue figures.

On his part, Uchechukwu Aniezechukwu said if the Service is indeed sincere with the amount it realized in August, the means through which the revenue was generated is detrimental to the economy.

According to him, importers are not finding it easy as they have to pay through their nose to get their consignments cleared from the port.

He said, “If the figures are genuine, importers are paying through their nose and this will continue to drive inflation which is not good for our economy.

“The means through which these figures are generated is not good for the economy but to its detriment. The living standard of Nigerians has not improved so why do you make them pay more through excessive customs duty?

“Shipping companies are shutting down. Clearing charges in Nigeria is on the high side, cargo throughput is diminishing by the day and the Customs are given us impression that they are generating revenue.

“I already see a situation where all importers will now begin to look towards neighbouring countries to bring goods into the country or even smuggle them in.”

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