Senate uncovers N447bn scam in import duty waivers

The Federal Government lost N447.4bn to import duty waivers, concessions and grants fraud from 2011 to 2015, a report of the Senate ad-hoc committee revealed yesterday.
The revelation was made in the report of the ad-hoc committee on import duty waivers, concessions and grants chaired by Senator Adamu Aliero (APC, Kebbi Central).

Delivering the report in yesterday’s plenary, Aliero said the country lost N78.4bn in 2011, N128.5bn in 2012, N46bn in 2013, N87.6bn in 2014 and N106.7bn in 2015 to waivers, concessions and grants.

Quoting a document from the Nigeria Customs Service, he said there were large scale revenue leakages between 2011 and 2015.
He said there was gross abuse of import duty waivers, concessions and grants by implementing Ministries , Departments and Agencies (MDAs), especially the Budget Office of the federation. He said his committee looked into the import duty waivers on rice, sugar automobile and hospitality sector and discovered a fraud of N65bn.
The Senate in passing resolutions on the report asked the federal government to recover N24bn from Olam International Limited (a subsidiary of Stallion Group) and Millan Group for exceeding the quota system granted them on rice importation. It also asked the government to recover N10.3bn from Dangote Limited, Kersuk Farms, Bua Group, Elephant Group and Golden Penny for violating the rice import quota granted them. The senators also said the purported transfer of 100,000 metric tons of rice by the Jamatul Nasrul Islam (JNI) to Elephant Group was illegal, and therefore, the import duty in the sum of N687m should be recovered.
On Sugar, the Senate said the Bua Sugar Refinery should pay N31.7bn to the federal government for obtaining waivers without backward integration programme. Also, the senate said Meditarion Nigeria Limited should be made to pay the import duty for under invoicing of 2,161,440kg of St. Louis cube sugar as at June, 2014 amounting to N82m.
It also resolved that the Nigeria Customs Service should henceforth only accept bank indemnity to avoid future loss of revenue to the government.
The senate urged the federal government to as a matter of urgency restructure and streamline the functions and responsibilities of the Budget Office to prevent further abuses.
In his remarks at the end of the presentation, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said the affected companies must be made to pay the money.
“This is clearly sabotage on our economy, the money must be recovered and the perpetrators must be dealt with. After three months, we will look at the implementation of our recommendations on this waiver, “he said.
Addressing newsmen on the report, the Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, said the money was recoverable and expressed optimism that the government would swiftly move into action on the funds.

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