4th November, 2013
Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko, the Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), said on Monday in Abuja that the agency lost about N603 billion this year due to unfavourable government policies.
He said that the losses were incurred following waivers on petroleum products, revenue lost to manufacturers and assemblers, revenue concessioned to the Niger Delta Development Commission, import substitution and industrialisation.
Dikko made the disclosure when he appeared before the Senate Joint Committees on Finance and Appropriation monitoring the implementation of the 2013 budget. He explained that the sharp decline in the revenue collected by the agency during the year was caused by government policies which granted waivers and concessions on some imported and excisable goods.
He said that out of estimated revenue of N718 billion for the months of January to August, only N530 billion was collected by the agency, reflecting a shortfall of about N188 billion within the period.
He said that the Customs also lost N105 billion revenue from import duty as a result of the Federal Government’s ban on rice importation.
“If not for the government policies on waivers, import duty exemption, some imported goods and free trade zones that are being abused by traders, the Nigeria Customs Service would have collected about N600 billion more than the N530 billion it remitted as at the end of September this year.
“Under waivers and import duty exemption on NDDC’s imported equipment alone, the customs service lost N86 billion.
“About N264 billion was lost to waivers on petroleum products, N76 billion was lost to manufacturers and assemblers, among others,” he said.
Defending the government policies, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, said that the policies were introduced to help certain sectors to grow and generate jobs.
“We are aware of the sharp decline in revenue generation of the Customs Service in the current fiscal year; this is partly due to the government policies mentioned.
“But we are studying the whole situation to decide what other actions should be taken because we need to be sure that jobs intended to be created are commensurate to the revenues being lost,” she said.
The minister said that the 2014 budget would plug loopholes that caused shortfalls in the generation of oil and non-oil revenues.
Okonjo-Iweala proposed 74 dollars per barrel at 2.3 million barrels per day as the benchmark for the 2014 budget.
She said that the Federal Ministry of Finance had worked out strategies to plug wastages in non-oil revenue.
The minister told members of the committee that a total of N1.01 trillion had so far been released to the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), out of the N1.05 trillion budgeted for capital expenditure in 2013.
She said that the balance of N400 billion would be disbursed to the MDAs before the year ran out.