Fed Govt suspends import quota issuance to rice millers

The Federal Government has suspended the issuance of quota to millers for rice importation.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sonny Echono, said there would be no issuance of quota to any intending importer for now pending the review of the policy which gave preferential treatment to some importers.

Echono, in an interview with reporters in Abuja at the weekend said the suspension became necessary because of abuse of the policy by rice millers, adding that only those who were paying 70 per cent import duty would be allowed to bring in rice for now.

He said there is no subsisting allocation for this year as the allocation for last year had expired.

The permanent secretary said the volume of rice that would be allowed into the country would be limited to the current supply gap.

He said the country had a supply gap of about 1.5 million tonnes between national rice demand and supply, blaming the situation on insufficient local milling capacity.

Echono however said the Ministry was addressing this challenge.

He also said the Ministry would seek clarifications on measures put in place by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to ensure that importers pay appropriate duty for rice imported through land borders.

Echono said the clarification became necessary following the lifting of the ban on importation of the commodity through land border by the NCS last week.

“I will be meeting with the Comptroller-General of Customs in the interest of the principle of consistency in policy. As long as the machinery for the importers to pay the appropriate duty is in place on the land borders, it should not be a problem.

“Rice importation through land border was earlier banned because the machinery for proper duty collection at the borders was not in place.

“But if they put in place the right policy to ensure that the routes are clearly defined and duties are paid before they bring rice in, then, we need to get the assurance on how the mechanism works. That is why I need to meet him,” he said.

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