Nigerian Customs to begin industries census

Acheme Jack, Kano

The Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, has declared that it will soon embark on a census of industries and factories across the nation for proper inventory and accurate revenue generation drive.

The Comptroller-General of NCS, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) at a stakeholders meeting in Kano state north western Nigeria said that “the measure is to ensure that all firms pay their excise duties into the coffers of Federal Government through proper data collection.”

He also underscored the need for indigenous industrialization as that will be the only way to curb the activities of smugglers, just as he decried the dwindling revenue generation in the Service.

He called on the stakeholders to cooperate with Customs in their drive to meet the set target.

“The idea for this meeting is for us to exchange ideas and for us to keep talking to see how we can create understanding as we are key to each other.

In a developing nation like Nigeria, revenue collection is a key factor because whatever customs collect contributes to the GDP of the country. Whatever we collect goes into the treasury and falls back into the system because it is the money that we use to run and oil the system.”  Stressed the Comptroller General

Ali said the agency was working towards trade facilitation as obtained in developed economies rather than import duty collection for revenue.

The fact is that customs is now moving from revenue generation to the key of its existence which is trade facilitation. In countries that are developed, revenue generation is no longer part of their own agenda because the produce most of the things they use, but in our case, we pay more attention to revenue coming from importation because 99 percent of our requirement in Nigeria comes through importation,“explained Ali.

Rice ban

The custom boss also declared that there would be no going back on restrictions placed on the importation of rice into the country through the land border, as earlier an window opened was abused by importers of the product, noting that the policy is also meant to help domestic production.

Out of the six million metric tons we consume every year, we only produce two million metric tons; therefore, we get the balance from importation of rice. It is not a good news, despite the fact that God has given us everything that we need to grow rice.

The Customs service will be very glad to collect excise duties than to collect import duty. Because increased excise duty means our industries are growing and we are developing our economy. Import duty means killing our economy and growing someone else’s economy,”  Ali said.

He said the service is faced by the issue of non compliance by traders as they break laws set by the customs service.

“We have cases where you know that the goods you are bringing require 30 per cent, but you will go and get an agent who will undervalue it to five per cent. “ Stated the Custom Boss

The Customs boss who decried cases of officers conniving with smugglers said his office has mapped out modalities on how to put them in check.

He also pleaded with stakeholders to create an avenue of trust, pointing out that without trust and understanding in transacting business with the Customs, the revenue generation will be on a lower ebb and the country’s economy will continue to suffer.