Senate begins probe of Customs
The Senate on Wednesday started a comprehensive probe into the activities of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to block revenue leakages and enhance generation.
The probe, launched by the Senate Committee on Customs and Excise, will look into ways to increase revenue generation capacity of the service.
The Chairman of the committee, Sen. Hope Uzodimma, during an oversight visit to the NCS headquarters in Abuja, said the service should generate enough revenue to fund the nation’s budget.
He expressed displeasure at a report by the Ministry of Finance, which indicated that the NCS had generated less than N400 billion so far in 2016.
Uzodinma said the committee might re-enact the law establishing the service for optimal performance.
“We are looking into the operations of Customs Service; looking at the areas of revenue generation and possible leakages with a view to finding solutions.
“We have done detailed work and we have established contacts with all commands under the service.
“All we are interested in is to evolve a robust framework that will help the NCS earn more revenue.
“In order to do that effectively, we are examining its current mode of operations with a view to refining how things are done.
“By the time we finish looking at the operations of some of the ports, we will come back and look at how best to amend the existing Act.
“We want to create a situation where the NCS will be able to fetch the country the kind of revenue we are looking for from non-oil sector,’’ he said.
Commenting on the revelation that the service could not access some oil companies for payment of levies, Uzodinma said that was part of the impediments that require enabling laws.
“There are some limitations that have not made it possible for the customs service to perform its mandate the way it should.
“Those are things that we will also look into so as to remove all obstacles to enable it function effectively,’’ the committee chairman said.
While interacting with the Comptroller-General of the Service, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd.), Uzodinma requested that certain documents be submitted to enhance the committee’s probe.
The committee gave the service till Oct. 28 to submit the documents and answer all the queries posed.
It sought to know how the seven per cent Negotiable Duty Credit was managed and how the service handled seized cargoes and overtime cargoes.
The NCS is expected to render details of how it handles seized cigarette and alcohol, record of auctioned overtime and seized cargoes.
The committee also demanded for record of all waivers granted in the last three years, value of the waivers, detailed record of sugar levy and other details of revenue accrual.
Uzodinma expressed displeasure at the inability of the service to collect duty from oil companies, promising that a legislation to review the law would be initiated.
In his remark, the Custom CG, Col. Hameed Ali, assured that the service would fully cooperate with the committee.
He directed NCS officials to provide the committee with all the information and documents it required.
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