The Senate on Wednesday approved the sum of N257,183,671,694.71 for the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in the 2021 fiscal year.
It also approved N1.678 trillion as target revenue of the agency for 2021.
The approvals were sequel to the consideration and adoption of the report of the Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff.
Presenting the report, the Chairman of the committee, Senator Francis Alimikhena, said out of the N257,183,671,694.71 approved as Customs budget for 2021,
N137,933,180,013.00 is for capital expenditure, while personnel and overhead costs are to claim N99,719,722,681.71 and N19,530,769,000.00 respectively.
According to the report, out of the N19 billion earmarked for overhead costs, N2 billion is for welfare incentive for retiring staff, N180 million for fumigation, N3 billion for local travels and transport, N100 million for internet access charges, N200 million for aircraft maintenance, N250 million for maintenance of motor vehicles/transport equipment, and N200 million for maintenance of plant generators.
Other maintenance services include "N1.2 billion for local training, N500 million for legal services, N400 million for motor fuel cost, N400 million for plant and generators fuel cost, N100 million for aircraft fuel cost, N90 million for refreshment and meals, N1,570,769,000 for recruitment and appointment, and N5 billion for motor vehicle advances, among others".
On capital projects, N1.6 billion was earmarked for boreholes and other water facilities, N15.9 billion for motor vehicles, N81 million for shredding machine and N87 million for photocopies.
Alimikhena said during the budget defence session, the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service and the management team made presentations and also made clarifications on the areas the committee sought further information.
He explained that the initial approved revenue target for 2020 stood at N1.679 trillion, however, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the NCS revenue target was revised to N81.380 trillion.
For 2021 fiscal year, Alimikhena said the NCS revenue target was pegged at N1.465 trillion comprising N1.267 trillion for Federation Account and N197.996 billion for Non-Federation Account respectively, but the Senate Committee deemed this target to be inadequate, while taking cognizance of the recently assented Finance Act, 2021.
According to him, "Expansion of excisable items, excise duties of carbonated drinks, tariff review on vehicles; re-opening of border; and the Central Bank of Nigeria announced the official rate of naira to dollar at N10 = $1. This means collectable duty of every imports will increase in naira term than when the rate was 381 = $1. All these will significantly increase the revenue target of the NCS in 2021 budget year.
"In view of the foregoing, which were not captured in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) 2020, the committee hereby increase the NCS revenue target from N1,465,345,719,428 (One Trillion, Four Hundred and Sixty-Five Billion, Three Hundred and Forty-Five Million, Seven Hundred and Nineteen Thousand, Four Hundred and Twenty-Eight Naira) to N1,678,715,061,014.00 (One Trillion, Six hundred and Seventy Eight Billion, Seven Hundred and Fifteen Million, Sixty-One Thousand and Fourteen Naira)."
Shortly after his presentation, some concerns were raised by some senators who sought explanations for the sum allocated for some services.
Senator Sam Egwu in particular sought to know why a whopping sum of N2 billion is being earmarked for retirement incentive, saying: "N2 billion for retirement? I have never seen that, please explain that."
Responding, Alimikhena said the retirement incentive was for all rank of retiring Customs officers and not for one person.
Contributing, the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, said the lawmakers should increase oversight function of the agency, to ensure the monies are well used.
He said: "You need to improve oversight on Customs, this narration that they will keep money and not do budget implementation is as a result of insufficient oversight. So we need to be knowing this kind of stuff in good times, that you report back to the Senate, this is what is happening and advice them on what is appropriate.
"I'm sure you have heard so many observations regarding the report, and of course the way the budget of Nigerian Customs is implemented. The idea is to alert you as a committee to step up our activities with respect to that state of government. Make sure that the budget is properly implemented, not at the end of the year but the entire spread of one year. Ensure that this is what goes on henceforth."