The lockdown imposed by the Federal Government on Lagos State to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has taken a toll on the revenue collection of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) as major commands in Lagos have recorded a sharp fall in their revenue generation.
Findings by SHIPS & PORTS reveal that the Customs top three revenue generating command namely the Apapa Area Command, Tin Can Island Port Area Command and PTML Area Command, all in Lagos, are collectively losing N2.3billion daily to the lockdown.
Although the government directed the seaports to remain operational, the restriction order has posed a challenge to clearing agents from accessing the port to clear their consignments, while many commercial banks operating in the environment also fail to open for operation, a development that has created a lull in Customs operation.
Speaking with SHIPS & PORTS, Public Relations Officer of Customs Apapa Area Command, Nkiru Nwala, said the command, which is the highest revenue collecting command of the NCS, recorded an average collection of N900million daily as against its daily target of N1.8billion.
Nwala said the effect of the lockdown would have been minimal on the command’s revenue generation if the banks had opened for operations.
She said, “As you know, none of the activities in the port were stopped but the major issue here are the banks and there is little we can do without the banks. Duty payment is beyond online transaction, it has a whole lot of documentations that is required more than transfer. On Wednesday, we got N949million. If the banks were open, it would have been a bit different but I learnt the banks have been asked to open. Since the bank will be opened by weekend, I am sure the revenue will improve.”
The Tin Can Island Port Command, which is the second highest Customs revenue collecting command, has also been recording a shortfall of N700million daily in its revenue collection since the lockdown, according to its spokesman, Uche Ejesieme.
“Before now, we are on the average of N1.5 billion to 1.7 billion daily but I don’t think we are making that much now. For now, we are between N800 and N900 million daily collections since the lockdown. We hope that by the time the bulk operators that pay in bulk comes in, it is going to boost our revenue.
“The major problem is because the banks are not working despite the directive that they should work. Even today (Friday), the agents confirm that they can’t even do a single transaction in the banks. The jobs are interwoven; one agency cannot operate without the other. The situation expectedly has affected revenue generation.
“Beyond the fact that some of the agents cannot go to the banks to pay, some are actually doing e-payment but if you look at the percentage of e-payment and manual, the difference is huge. We are hoping that sooner than later, some of the challenges will be ameliorated.
“We are conscious of the fact that because of the global decline in oil prices, government will certainly put its searchlight on internally generated revenue, and when it comes to IGR, Customs is very key to it. So we are not leaving any stone unturned to make sure that we collect all collectables,” he said.
Yakubu Muhammed, spokesman of the PTML Area Command located within the Tin Can Island Port Complex, Lagos, also confirmed that the lockdown has negatively impacted rhe revenue generation of the command as most of the agents cannot come over to lodge their declarations.
He said the command’s revenue declined from a daily collection of N900million to N189 million while number of declarations also dropped from 1300 daily to 100.
He said, “Our daily official revenue target is N1billion but on the average, we collect between N600 million and N900 million. If you look at what we have from Tuesday when the lock down started, the rate has really dropped. For example, we generated a little above N160million on Tuesday, N130million on Wednesday and N189 million on Thursday.
“Even based on declaration, we normally lodge between 500 to 1300 declarations in a day but since the lockdown, the declaration we lodge is not even up to 100. So looking at the rate, it has really gone down.”