As part of her commitment to block leakages and improve the revenue base of the country, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, has received the Full Business Case Certificate of Compliance for the Import Duty Exemption Certificate (IDEC) project from the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC).

The certificate of compliance was presented to the minister by the ICRC Director-General/CEO, Chidi Izuwah (Snr), in Abuja.

According to a statement by her media aide, Mr Paul Ella Abechi, the minister, who was pleased with the development, commended the Director General of ICRC for expediting action on the project.

She said: “It is really a good time for me that this project that I was really particular about since I came is coming to operation.”

While calling for the full implementation of the project when it is fully ready, she noted that her ministry would have to get the approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) before the public private partnership (PPP) arrangement of the project will take full course.

She urged the Ministry to take full advantage of the IDEC portal and put it into full use to enable the federal government get full value for its revenues, noting that we have been experiencing a significant drain in revenues due to the inability to adequately control the IDEC processes.

The minister said: “The portal will help us control. It will help us to be able to tract and monitor the IDEC that we issue, but also to monitor the performance of the companies that we give this IDEC to and we will also be able to interface the IDEC system with the Nigeria Customs Service.”

The certificate presented to the minister reads in part: “Full Business Case Compliance Certificate for the Development, Deployment and Management of Automated Customs Gateway Portal for Import Duty Exemption Certificate.

“The Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) has reviewed the response by the Federal Ministry of Finance to the Conditional Outline/Full Business Case Compliance Certificate granted by the Commission on 12th June, 2018, for the Development, Deployment and Management of Automated Customs Gateway Portal for Import Duty Exemption Certificates, under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement with Forecore Technology Solution Limited, as the preferred partner to Develop, Deploy, Manage and Transfer for a 10-year concession period.”

Earlier, in his opening remark, the Director-General of ICRC, Mr Izuwah, noted that IDEC project is a very laudable one, which is considered as a great and urgent importance to enable the country cut the huge revenue losses to the tune of over N2 trillion due to manual processes.

He said the statement in the minister’s letter that the non-implementation of the project caused a revenue loss of N2.5 trillion in 2017 and N2.1 trillion in 2018 made them consider this a national revenue emergency “and we gave it the needed attention and turned it around very quickly”.

Izuwah further noted that the Federal Ministry of Finance, under Section 12 of the ICRC Act is required to diligently supervise this project and ensure that government realises full value, protect its interest and reap the full benefits of the project.

He added that on the other hand, the ICRC under Section 10 of its Act is required to collaborate with the Ministry of Finance and regularly inspect the project and ensure compliance, that both the public and the private sectors are doing what they had undertaken to do.

He also appealed to the minister to help the Commission and the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA) finalise its discussion concerning the Special Concession Account, which according to him, will be a huge opportunity to increase the revenue that is available to the government and block leakages.

In her response, the minister promised to meet with the Permanent Secretary, Special Duties and the Accountant General of the Federation “to make sure that the account is not only put in place but put to full use.”