The Senate has told officials of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) that the N5.079 trillion 2024 revenue target of the agency will be reviewed upwards from the second half of the year to save the country from further borrowings.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Customs, Isah Jibrin during a crucial meeting with the Comptroller-General of Customs Wale Adeniyi, and top management staff of the agency on Monday, stated the committee expected the service to play a major role in reducing the country’s debt burden hence their revenue review.
“First of all, Nigeria is saddled with a lot of debt obligations and we need to wriggle ourselves out of that trap and one of the ways to do that is internally generated revenue. Customs is one of the major providers of internally generated revenue and as it is today, we expect them to play one of the major roles in this drive to reduce our debt burden.
“We need to pay off what we owe now and minimize additional loans we are going to take. Customs is in a very good position, if they are able to block all perceived leakages, they should be able to generate a significant amount of income that will enable Nigeria to get out of debt, at least partially,” he said.
He also said that the lawmakers are putting the NCS under pressure to employ more staff.
“Customs is not the only employer of labour. They can only employ the number they believe they can adequately take care of and we are putting them under pressure to exceed the 1,600 benchmark.
“We may not get beyond 2,000, but for sure, we will get 1,600 and like we all know, there are so many unemployed Nigerians out there, I will always say it is difficult for the Nigeria Customs Service to absorb all unemployed Nigerians but they can only employ those they can,” he said.
Answering questions from the lawmakers, the Customs Comptroller General said the service is seeking approval from the Federal Government to grant waivers to th owners of smuggled cars to allow them to regularise their payment of customs duties.
On the astronomical rise in the import duties as a result of rising exchange rate, the Customs boss said, “Correctly, it is the mandate of the Central Bank of Nigeria to fix the rate, either the one we use during Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) or the one we use for importation or the one used for payment of customs duties. I have been in discussions with my minister. Perhaps, what you are going to advocate is that there would be a meeting point between authorities of government that are in charge of monetary policy and those in charge of fiscal policies.
“Personally, what I think we can do is to get a spot rate for some time. We can agree that for quarter Y 2024, this will be the spot rate for payment of customs duties,” he said.
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