Stakeholders in the maritime industry have accused the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) of applying ‘crude’ method in their efforts to generate revenue.
The stakeholders, who are manufacturers, importers, customs agents and other practitioners under the Association of Igbo Maritime Practitioner in Nigeria (ASIMPIN) accused customs of adopting exploitative methods in revenue generation at the ports and in excise duties collection.
In a statement signed by the Publicity Secretary of ASIMPIN, Chief Obicee Okonkwo, the practitioners, while noting that requisite revenue generation remains apt for even socio- economic development of the nation, said it was wrong for the NCS to adopt, “any form of exploitive and imposing revenue generation, bearing in mind its attendant socio- economic implications on the citizenry.”
Rising from its Board of Trustees/ National Executives meeting, in Lagos, the practitioners said it was amazing that stakeholders don’t take time to re-verify the components, sources and manner applied in generating revenue into the coffers of the government.
They queried as to whether the August revenue yield, among others were “ a function of excise duty collection from a flourishing manufacturing activities, increase imports and exports activities across the international frontiers”.
“So what is the volume of imports and exports activities per month? What is the dwell time of cargo at the port , what is the trade facilitation rating/performance indicators at the customs ports? What is the prevailing manufacturing conditions and production level in the country to complement bumper excise duty collection,” they asked.
The statement added, “where revenue source seems tilting towards “other available avenues” amidst low cargo throughputs – aka the quick resorting to profiling past imports transactions recorded of 2013 to date, a practice popularly known as the application of “by hook or crook.”
According to them, the current ailing economic and hash business climate were, “tantamount to an indirect request to the business owners or firms to gradually close shop.”
They added: “The spate of closures cum invitations of the warehouses owners and business outfits is dangerously alarming. If the spate continues, then , so many business owners and manufacturers will be left with no other option, but to down size their staff or workforce.
“The implications of this we all know, in the face of an electioneering period as this. In addition to this, the reservations on the foreign exchange application to originating form M and the contradictory CBN foreign exchange directive cum application as at the time import valuation for customs purpose, casts enormous doubts on trade reasonability applications.
“Another, aspects being the prevalence unlevelled/ unequal playing field in relation to non-uniformity of trade practices, application and methodology across the frontiers.”
The Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hammed Ali (rtd.) had recently announced a revenue generation of N140.41billion in the month of August which has been so far the highest monthly revenue collection.
The Public Relations Officer of the NCS, Mr. Joseph Attah in a statement said this was as a result of dogged pursuit for reform programmes.
He said the Service had pursued the mandate given to him based on Restructure, Reform and Raise Revenue very seriously, adding that he has not relented on efforts to meet up with expectations to contribute to the national economy.
Apart from realizing as much as N140.41bn in August, the Service had also effected seizures of 156,090 bags of smuggled rice; 15,632 sets of military wears, 489,000 ammunition, among others.
Ali said: “This positive harvest in the areas of anti-smuggling and revenue generation is a clear testimony of what can be achieved under a selflessly focused leadership.”