Committee faults rice import tariff
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.