Lawmakers commence probe of 110% rice duty

The House of Representatives Committee on Customs and Excise will this week hold a public hearing on the new rice regime introduced by the Goodluck Jonathan administration in January 2013.

Chairman of the committee, Hon. Sabo Mohammed Nakudu, said the two-day public hearing, scheduled to hold on Thursday and Friday, is sequel to a resolution of the House HR 24/2014 which mandated it to summon all relevant stakeholders “to fashion out a way forward on the Federal Government’s Rice Policy.”

Nakudu said the public hearing will hold in the New Wing, House of Representatives, within the National Assembly Complex, Abuja.

He said the Minister of Finance/Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; Minister of Agriculture, Akinwunmi Adeshina; Minister of Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga; and Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Service, Dikko Abdullahi, are expected to appear and make presentations at the public hearing.

Members of Rice Millers, Importers and Distributors Association of Nigeria (RIMIDAN) and the Chairman Presidential Committee on Trade Malpractice, have also been summoned to make presentations by the committee.

Since its introduction in January last year, the rice policy which effectively increased the duty payable on imported rice from 60 per cent to 110 per cent, has led to a massive and total diversion of rice shipments meant for Nigeria to the ports of neighbouring countries.

The policy has also led to high rate of smuggling of the commodity even as the country was said to have lost over N300 billion between January and December 2013.

Okonjo-Iweala, who admitted the failure of the policy recently, said there were plans for its review by the federal government.

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