By Richards Adeniyi
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has asked the Federal Government to discontinue the import duty waiver scheme as it is taking a toll on its revenue collection.
Speaking at a forum in Lagos last week, Assistant Comptroller General of Customs in charge of Zone A, Kaycee Ekekeie, said the Federal Government was losing trillions of naira on a yearly basis to the granting of import duty waivers to companies and non-governmental organizations.
Some of the early beneficiaries of waivers and concession include Dangote Industries Limited, Vasmani, Stallion and other rice importers; the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Messrs Western Metal Product Co. Limited, International Hotels, Mandarin Hotels, Le Meridian, Grand Ikoyi Towers and Resort and Federal Palace Hotels.
Others are members of the diplomatic corps and companies fronting for top government functionaries, among others.
Ekekesie noted that while Nigeria is an import dependent economy, there could be other incentives for importers but not outright waivers, which have over the years been subjected to abuse.
She said, “We are always sad with the huge amount of money that goes into waivers every year. It runs into trillions and we are very sad about it. Nigeria is an import-based economy and all these waivers that are being granted are affecting our revenue. So we in Customs will be very glad if all these waivers could stop. There could be other incentives for investors but not outright waivers.
“Customs cannot stop waivers, we are an implementing agency but we can advise government where it is hurting us and the economy and we do that all the time.”
The Customs boss added that the NCS would work with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to end issuance of waiver to foreign flagged vessels stating that any ship that does not fly the Nigerian flag would not be allowed to operate on the nation’s coastal water.
Ekekeie, who lauded the Federal Government’s diversification drive, said Nigeria must continue to focus on growing its local content to boost the economy.
“I wish we will be thinking home in all aspects of our economy. We have started with agriculture, and we are praying that we get it right so that the smuggling of rice will stop.
“So when we start thinking home, we will generate employment, and then we have something we call our own other than looking outside and borrowing technology here and there. We have people who are very capable in the country and we have all it takes to make it work,” she said.