Sylvester Idowu in Warri
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Edo/Delta Command has generated N1.8 billion in January 2020.
Comptroller of Customs, Edo/Delta Command, Compt. Olaniyi Alajogun, made the disclosure in an interview with THISDAY.
He said the federal government gave his command a revenue target of N32 billion in the 2020 fiscal year, as against the target of N18 billion recorded in 2019.
The 2020 revenue target figure, according to him, translated to N2.7 billion per month in contrast to last year’s monthly target of N1.5 billion.
Alajogun, explained that the upward review of the revenue target for the Command became imperative as the federal government increased the target for the entire Nigeria Customs Service in 2020, to about N2 trillion.
He, however, expressed optimism that collections for subsequent months would show progressive improvement.
“I want to believe that it is always like that at the beginning of every year all over the place because that is when businessmen are expecting what the Budget and the government policies will look like”, he said.
The Customs Area Controller revealed that irrespective of the challenges confronting the Edo/Delta Command, it did well in 2019 when it even surpassed its revenue target of N18,023,840,518.73 for the year, by recording N22,181,117,360.75.
Comparatively, the figure showed that the revenue collected for the year 2019 under review was N6,350,682,647.75 higher than the collections for 2018.
Alajogun, therefore, tasked the officers and men of the Command to see the new revenue target as a wakeup call and endeavor to put in their expertise to justify the confidence reposed in them.
“The revenue that we will be able to collect in the Command is largely based on the cargo input, that is, the volume of cargo that we are able to get. And considering the peculiar nature of this Port (Warri Ports), we know it is not very active Port, and it is no mean task; but we are always hopeful that things will get better.
“On our part, the best we can do is to make sure that the little cargo that comes, we make sure we collect all collectable revenue by putting in our expertise and make sure that no revenue that is supposed to come into government coffers go untapped. So, that is the best we can do considering the cargo inlet that we have in this axis.
“We are determined that whatever little things we have; due diligence must be done to make sure we collect maximum duty. It is just a question of applying ourselves properly to the job we have to do,” he added.
Alajogun, also commended the federal government over the ongoing dredging activities at the Escravos bar at the Warri Ports, saying that, “when completed, there will be improvement in the operations of the Customs Service within the Area Command.”
He spoke further on the dredging activities, saying, “Government is on this issue. I think they started about a year ago. They have been on it. We are all praying that it is completed as soon as possible. But now that the work is ongoing, nobody knows the time that the work will be completed. But I think the joy is that as soon as the work is completed, there will be improvement in our activities in this area and that will change the narratives because the obstacles that are preventing vessels from coming here are still there, that is, the shallowness of the channels and all that.
“Had it been we are in a situation like TinCan or Apapa where big vessels bring cargoes, we may also have been beneficiaries of the border closure because all the cargoes that are supposed to go to Cotonou since the border closure were compelled to come to our seaports. Unfortunately, the vessels that bring them cannot come to Warri”, he stated.
He said: “The challenges affecting our revenue collection in Edo/Delta Command are beyond us. They are notably the issues of the channels and all that have led to inactivity in the Command. Once these ones are addressed, and they are not challenges that we on our own could address, it is something that the government is supposed to handle and they are handling it.”
Comptroller Alajogun urged the stakeholders to continue to be compliant noting that as soon as activities pick up in the Ports, there is the tendency that new ones will join them.
“I will only encourage those who are already on ground to ensure that they put the new ones that will join them on the right track so that this place will be seen to be a command that is compliant with government policies”, he said.