Recession: Custom Boss Urges FG to Revisit Excisable Products, Re-admit Delisted Items

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Sheriff Balogun in Abeokuta

The Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Col Hameed Ali (rtd), has urged the federal government to revisit excisable products with a view to re-admitting the delisted and new items under excise administration.

While presenting a paper at the National Council on Finance and Economic Development in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, Ali said the 2009 fiscal policy which de-excise some products and industries has drastically affected the revenue generation from the excise duty.
He said: “The policy was then aimed at stimulating the economy against the backdrop of the global economic meltdown.”

The customs boss said the revenue generated between 2009 and 2016 put at N281.1 billion were only from two approved excisable products of alcoholic beverages and tobacco/cigarette.

Preceding the 2009, the comptroller-general stated that excisable products included perfumes and other toilet waters, non-alcoholic beverages, fruit juice, soap and detergent, beer lager and stout, wines, spaghetti/noodles, spirits and other alcoholic beverages, cigarettes and tobacco, toilet papers, cleaning or facial tissues among others.

He noted that seven years was enough period of tax relief for industries to stabilise, no matter the intention of the government at the time of the policy.

Alli said the government, in times of recession, must review all incentives and concessions in order to generate enough fund to run its operation, adding that the policy was better when it was introduced because of the price of oil which could reasonably sustain the economy.

According to him, “In the last seven years also, sectorial incentives were given to importing and investing companies that double as exporters. These companies were given the full benefits of Export Expansion Grant (EEG), as incentives.

“These benefits however resulted to abuse of forex utilisation, transfer pricing, under invoicing, non-repatriation of export proceeds and other export fraud to the detriment of the nation’s economy.

“The companies enjoyed the incentives without paying excise duty. These companies should be brought under excise duty payment. After all, the companies have enjoyed sectorial incentives for seven years without paying excise duty, which is considered a reasonable period of tax holiday and gestation.”

He explained that the government has failed to implement the ECOWAS member states legislation on excise duties which emanated from the 62nd Ordinary Session of the Council of Minister in 2009 in Abuja.

Ali said the non-implementation of the policy has placed Nigeria as the lowest in tax bands in the Africa sub-region if not in Africa.
While all member states have implemented the directive and collect excise duty on exports from Nigeria, the Nigerian government is yet to do same to imports from these other member states.