This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: Shell, Guinness, Others Enjoyed N65 Billion Duty Waivers in 2012/2013

Shell Petroleum Development Company Limited, Guinness Nigeria Plc, Shoreline Power Company Limited, Olams Nigeria Limited, Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) and Geometric Power Limited have featured prominently on the list of beneficiaries of duty waivers granted to the public and private sector institutions during the fiscal year 2012/2013.

Releasing the data Tuesday, ostensibly to debunk what some critics had described as the "serial misapplication of waivers", the Federal Ministry of Finance put the total sectoral waivers granted during the period at N64,954,823,288.17.

In addition to several ministries and departments of the federal government, state governments such as Rivers, Sokoto and Ebonyi, were also beneficiaries.

A sector-by-sector review showed that the power sector emerged the biggest beneficiary with a total of N25,868,620,005.04, followed by the gas sector with N17,875,687,748.27.

The finance ministry also showed that the agricultural sector came third on the waivers scale with N11,841,058, 035.87.

The health as well as the mines and steel sectors also enjoyed waivers of N7,935,433,366.99 and N1, 442,024,137, respectively.

Following the acquisition of some armoured cars by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), which were meant for the Aviation Minister, Ms. Stella Odua, there was a public outcry over the management of the duty waiver scheme.

In response to this, the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had declared that no waivers were granted on the cars, adding that only vehicles brought in by the Lagos State Government for the last National Sports Festival enjoyed waivers.

Meanwhile, the federal government has approved the takeover of full processing of all import transactions to Nigeria by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in accordance with the amended Import Guidelines of the Destination Inspection Scheme.

This development followed the expiration of the Destination Inspection Contract Agreements between the Federal Government of Nigeria and Scanning Service Providers (SSPs), which led to President Goodluck Jonathan's directive for the transition of Destination Inspection Service from contracted SSPs to the NCS.

The transition, which took effect from December 1, 2013, would confer on the NCS the responsibility of full processing of all import transactions to Nigeria in accordance with the amended Import Guidelines of the Destination Inspection Scheme.

In line with this, all Scanning Service Providers (Cotecna, SGS and Global Scan) shall cease to approve new Form M, issue Risk Assessment Report (RAR) or perform scanning operations for goods imported into Nigeria.

A statement issued yesterday by Mr. Paul Nwabuikwu, Special Adviser to the Finance Minister, said with the new development, the SSPs are to hand over all valid Form Ms and existing valuation database to the Customs Service.

"However, the contract for provision of ICT infrastructure back up for the scheme currently being executed by Webb Fontaine is extended for a period of 18 months to ensure a smooth takeover by NCS.

"As part of the take-over plans, help desks and dedicated hotlines have been provided to enable stakeholders and the general public channel complaints, observations and suggestions on the process to the NCS commands across the country," he said.

Such feedback, the statement added, could also be channelled directly through the dedicated numbers such as 09 4621597, 09 4621598 and 09 4621599.

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