Com­mit­tee faults rice im­port tar­iff

Daily Trust - - NEWS - By Fran­cis Okeke

Mem­bers of the Com­mit­tee on Pub­lic Fi­nance yes­ter­day faulted the na­tion’s rice im­port tar­iff regime, say­ing it ben­e­fits neigh­bour­ing coun­tries to the detri­ment of Nigeria.

Com­mit­tee chair­man Adamu Aliero de­scribed the 110% tar­iff on rice duty as very un­wise, call­ing for a down­ward re­view to curb smug­gling and gen­er­ate rev­enue for the Nige­rian Cus­toms Ser­vice, when of­fi­cials of Nige­rian Cus­toms made pre­sen­ta­tions be­fore the com­mit­tee.

Aliero stated that indige­nous farm­ers and millers of rice can­not sat­isfy the lo­cal de­mand in Nigeria, so re­liev­ing the heavy bur­den of taxation on rice would be bet­ter for the econ­omy.

“The 110% duty placed on rice is very un­wise, be­cause our neigh­bours have cashed in on this and low­ered their tar­iff; there are more than 30 shiploads of rice wait­ing to be dis­charged in Cotonou, Benin Repub­lic, des­tined for Nigeria. That rice is com­ing to Nigeria but the rev­enue is go­ing to that coun­try.

“We have ad­vised the Min­is­ter of agri­cul­ture that the tar­iff should be re­duced to dis­cour­age smug­gling. The pol­icy is not work­ing...it is coun­ter­pro­duc­tive and not help­ing the na­tion,” he lamented.

Ear­lier, the Comp­trol­ler Gen­eral of Cus­toms Ab­dul­lahi Dikko said smug­gling has risen dras­ti­cally as a re­sult of des­per­ate Nige­ri­ans try­ing to cash in on op­por­tu­ni­ties pro­vided by the heav­ily taxed im­ported rice, to make il­licit profit.

Dikko, who was rep­re­sented by Deputy Comp­trol­ler Gen­eral Tar­iffs and Trade G.T. Aliyu said there is a need to re­view the tar­iff struc­ture to ben­e­fit the econ­omy.

“There is a need to make our taxes on rice more rea­son­able, so that there would be no need to smug­gle. Be­cause when taxes are high, people would want to evade it...but when they are rea­son­able, com­pli­ance level would be high and the in­come would in­crease,” he said

He added that not less than 46 of­fi­cers of the Nige­rian Cus­tom Ser­vice were killed by smug­glers in 2013.

Al­haji Nu­rudeen Lemu ex­plain­ing a point to mem­bers of the Com­mit­tee on Re­li­gion, dur­ing a meet­ing in Abuja yes­ter­day.

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