Customs loses N603bn in eight months

Customs loses N603bn in eight months
• Dikko identifies rice policy, NDDC, duty waivers as major revenue loopholes

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on Monday disclosed that certain government policies and bilateral agreements have led to a revenue loss of N603.2billion for the country in the first eight months of the year.
The Comptroller General of Customs, Dikko Abdullahi, made the disclosure on Monday when he appeared before the Senate Joint Committees on Finance and Appropriation.
Dikko said government policies such as waivers and concessions on some imported goods were responsible for the huge loss in revenue recorded in the year.
According to him, within the months of January and August, out of the estimated N718 billion budgetary revenue target of the Customs Service, only N530 billion was collected as revenue by the agency, leading to a short fall of about N188 billion.

The Customs boss explained that on rice importation alone which has since January attracted a duty of 110%, Customs has lost about N105 billion that would have been collected as import duty revenues.
“If not for government policies of waivers, import duty exemption etc on some imported goods and free trade zones that are largely being abused by traders involved, the Nigeria Customs Service would have collected more than N600 billion more of the N530 billion it remitted as at the end of September this year”, he said.
Providing a further break down the revenue loss of the agency occasioned by unfriendly government policies, the customs boss said under import duty exemption NDDC (Niger Delta Development Commission) imported equipment alone, customs lost N86.4 billion, lost N264 billion to waivers on petroleum products and lost N76 billion to manufacturers and assemblers.

In a related development, the minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala yesterday also said that the parameters for the 2014 budget will be tighter compared to previous ones.
Okonjo Iweala said government was aware of the sharp decline in revenue generation of the Nigeria Customs Service in the current fiscal year partly due to the government policies mentioned by Dikko. She said government is studying the situation to decide what other actions should be taken.
“On the loses being experienced in the non-oil sector, the customs had identified how government policies was slowing down their revenue projection but the Federal Government was also making efforts to block loopholes so that the non-oil sector could also bring in the required revenue. We are supporting FIRS which is in conjunction with Mckenzie to shore up revenue collection,” she stated.