The Apapa Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has said that no single vessel of traded rice berthed in Apapa port in the last two years.
This, the customs said, is as a result of the restriction of access to foreign exchange for 41 items including rice by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The CBN had in 2015 listed rice among the 41 items restricted from accessing foreign exchange from the Nigeria foreign exchange market. Thus, importers desirous of importing the commodity will have to source for his own foreign exchange without recourse to the official market.
Speaking when he received members of the Shipping Correspondents Association of Nigeria (SCAN), who paid him a courtesy visit at the command in Lagos, Controller of the command, Jibrin Musa, disclosed that since the last two years, the CBN had not issued Form M to any rice importer.
Consequently, the command, he said has not recorded any revenue on imported rice through the port within the review period.
â€œForm M issuance is not within the purview of the Nigeria Customs Service. It is a document that is sourced from CBN. If we see any consignment that has form M, we treat. All goods imported that are for commercial activities must have form M whether valid for foreign exchange or not valid. CBN does that and we only treat when we see but throughout last year to date, no importation of rice has passed through Apapa. So we have not collected any duty on rice through the port,â€ he said.
Jubril said despite the zero-duty recorded on rice, the command has not fared badly in its revenue generation as it has adopted various measures to up its revenue. He noted that since the launch of the Customs NICIS 11 automated platform, the commandâ€™s revenue has been on the increase.
He said the command collected N28 billion in April, N33 billion in May and N30 billion as at June 28th 2018.
He added that in line with the Executive Order on 24 hours port operation, the command was operating round- the -clock even as he dismissed claims by agents that officers do not report early for cargo examination.
He, however, noted that one of the challenges the command is faced with is the poor state of the port access road which has made movement of goods in and out of the port difficult for port users.
â€œWe operate round the clock. If anybody wants to take his consignment in the night, he can come but the roads are so terrible, so no importers will want to take his goods through this kind of road in the night for security reasons. So, people are careful that is why they are avoiding the night.
â€œThe bad road is affecting movement of goods inside and outside of the ports but the command is contending with the problem. We hope that when the road is finally done activities will pick up and there will be faster movement of delivery of consignment of the port,â€ he said.