The Nigeria Customs Service has re-introduced the restriction order on importation of rice through land borders across the country. New Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd), gave the approval for the reversal of an earlier policy in October 2015 which allowed rice imports through the land borders, once appropriate duty and charges were paid.
At a review session held with Comptrollers of Border Commands and Federal Operation Units in Abuja, yesterday, the service noted that dwindling revenue from rice imports through the land borders did not match the volume of rice landed in ports of neighbouring countries.
The Customs in a statement by Wale Adeniyi, Public Relations Officer, said: “Rather, reports from border commands indicated an upsurge in the tempo of rice smuggling, implementation of the restriction order got off to a smooth start, with a high level of compliance in October 2015. “However, revenue started dwindling from January 2016, with importers blaming access to forex as major impediments. “During the five-month period when the importation was allowed, October 2015 to March 17, 2016, a total of 24.992 metric tons of rice valued at N2,335,131,093 were imported through the land borders.” “During the period, total revenue generated amounted to N1,685,112,810, which is considerably lower than the revenue projected to be generated with the removal of import restrictions. “However, an upsurge in the number of the seizures has been reported across the land borders since January 2016. ‘’In the first two months of the 2016, a total of 9,238 bags were seized, with Duty Paid Value of N64,666,000 made by the Customs anti-smuggling patrol teams of Federal operations and border commands.
The Comptroller-General of Customs noted that his officers and men could not be totally exonerated from the abuse associated with the implementation of the order on rice, saying his office had been inundated with reports of collusion between them and rice importers.