Govt policy on rice takes toll on Apapa Customs Command’s revenue

There are strong indications that the Apapa Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) may not meet its revenue target of N470 billion for the 2013 fiscal year.
Customs Area Controller of the Command, Comptroller Charles Edike, who dropped this hint when the new Commissioner of Police in charge of Western Ports, Ambrose Aisabor, paid a courtesy visit to his office on Tuesday, said that the target was set before the federal government policy on rice which effectively increased the duty payable on the staple food to 110 per cent.
He said since the introduction of the new policy, there has been a sharp decline in the Command’s monthly collection of N39 billion since rice accounted for a big chunk of its revenue.
Giving a breakdown of import duty collected on rice last year, Edike said that the command would have surpassed its target if the government had not doubled the levy on rice in early this year.
“In January last year, rice accounted for 36 per cent of our revenue, in February 22 per cent, March 32 per cent, and in April 71 per cent. In May, rice accounted for 80 per cent of our revenue, in June 69 per cent, in July 5.8 per cent, August 2.4 per cent, September 11 per cent, October 15 per cent, November 23 per cent and in December it went up to 96 per cent,” he said.

“For this year, apart from two months where we have only 2 percent for rice, the rest months for rice have been zero. All the revenue that is supposed to be coming in for rice is longer there but we still hold on strongly that if we still have rice, our monthly revenue should be clocking about N50 billion to N60 billion,” he said.
He said the Command has however put in measures to ensure that any form of revenue leakage is plugged.
The Customs boss noted that although he had a 39 billion monthly target, he was not deterred from transferring containers to idle Commands like Lilypond, Kaduna and Kano which, according to him, will translate into higher revenue collection for the service.
“We are pushing these containers out so that there can be less pressure for importers and agents. In that atmosphere, the Comptroller General will collect more money. The first month, we sent about 1300 containers, and after then it has been over 4000 containers every month,” he said