Daily Trust (Abuja)

5 November 2013

Nigeria: Customs CG - Govt Lost N603 Billion to Import Waivers in Nine Months

Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service Abdullahi Dikko Inde has said the service could not actualise it's revenue target for the year 2013 as a result of import waivers and duty exemptions granted by the federal government which has hit N603 billion in the last nine months.

Speaking when he appeared before the Joint Senate Committees on Finance and Appropriation which is investigating reports of alleged over-bloating of the 2013 budget in Abuja yesterday Mr. Inde said of the N603.8 billion, N263.8 billion was lost to waiver granted on importation of petroleum products.

The Customs boss revealed that all the N603.2 billion lost was incurred between January and September this year.

A breakdown of the revenue loss include N86.4 billion on import duty credit certificate; N59.5 billion on revenue conceded to NDCC instrument and N96.9 billion on import substitution and industrialisation in drastic reaction in import of rice.

Other waivers granted by the government include N76.1 billion revenue loss to manufacturers and assemblers (CKD/BULK), revenue held in indemnities January to March 2013 on rice and sugar, drop in excise duty revenue due to close of some excise factories and de-excising of some excitable goods, and revenue loss to Ecowas Trade Liberalisation Scheme for transaction entered in the economic sub-region.

The Customs boss said his estimate has showed that Nigeria lost about N105 billion due to high tariff on rice importation imposed by the government which made some importers to resort to smuggling to bring in the product and is aided by "our porous borders."

He further told the Senators that the customs service is not in a position to know the amount of crude oil being exported out of the country daily because "we are not on ground to know."

Early in 2012, the federal government stopped granting import waivers following discoveries that in 2011 alone, the sum of N37.2 billion was lost as a result of import waivers to importers of raw materials in that year alone.

Nigeria Customs Service records have shown that the nation lost N276.9 billion between 2000 and 2008.

Confirming the loss in February 2012 at the budget defense session at the Senate, Deputy Comptroller General, Human Resources at the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Alhaji Garuba Makarfi told the lawmakers that the Presidency had directed that no import waiver be granted in the 2012 fiscal year.

He had said: "We lost 7 per cent of our collection to export expansion grant which is non-negotiable, this amounted to about N37.2 billion. The grant was given to export-oriented companies and local manufacturers, to export raw materials, but instead, these local manufacturers sell their certificates to dealers who then use it to import cars into the country."

On her part, finance minister Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, told the panel that about N265 billion capital votes have not been utilised by government Ministries, Departments and Agencies for the last three quarters and another N165 billion for the last quarter's thereby bringing the total to N400 billion.

She disclosed further that of the N1.5 trillion capital revenue estimates, only N1.01 trillion was realised due to revenue shortfall.

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