Reps probe three firms over import duty fraud

House of Representatives has started investigating three Nigerian companies, Stallion Group, Popular Foods and Olam Nigeria Limited, for allegedly colluding with their foreign investors to evade payment of revenue on import duties running into billions of Naira.

Under a new rice policy aimed at encouraging investment in local rice production with the overall objective of self-sufficiency in rice production by 2016, investors that have milling capacity with verified domestic rice production plans enjoy an import duty of 10 percent and levy of 20 per cent, while traders will pay an import duty of 10 percent and levy of 60 percent.

The House, which adopted a motion introduced by Simon Arabo on Thursday alleged that the three firms have colluded with their foreign partners to import rice exceeding their approved quota into Nigeria and owe the country about N28.3billion.

According to the parliament, the actions of these companies are capable of scuttling the nation’s self-sufficiency drive in rice production and an act which denies government the needed revenue on import duties.

Introducing the motion under matters of urgent national importance on the floor of the chamber, Arabo disclosed that Stallion Group and Popular Foods with an unpaid outstanding import duty of over N15billion have imported another 85,000 metric tons of rice into the country.

The lawmaker urged the chamber to investigate all companies involved in rice importation under the new policy so as to determine their approved quota vis-a-vis their excess quota in metric tons, how much such companies owe the government and recommend appropriate measures to recover such monies owed and make recommendations to the House within three weeks.

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