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Senate will review Customs revenue target — Senator Isah

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Customs and Excise Duties, Senator Jibrin Isah, has disclosed that the 2024 revenue target of the Nigeria Customs Service would be reviewed upwards from the second half of the year.

Speaking on Monday with journalists after the Committee had a meeting with the Comptroller General of Customs, Adewale Adeniyi, and his team at the National Assembly, the lawmaker said the agency is strategic in settling the debt overhang of the nation given its capacity to generate high-level revenues.

He said: “Nigeria is saddled with a lot of debt obligations, and we need to wriggle ourselves out of that trap, and one of the ways to do that is through internally generated revenue.

“Customs is one of the major providers of internally generated revenue, and as it is today, we expect them to play one of the major roles in this drive to reduce our debt burden.

“We need to pay off what we owe now and minimise the additional loans we are going to take. Customs is in a very good position; if they can block all perceived leakages, they should be able to generate a significant amount of income that will enable Nigeria to get out of debt, at least partially.”

On the concession given to some sectors of the economy, the Kogi East Senator said it is for those who are into agricultural services, solid minerals, and other services that impact the economy directly.

“If somebody is bringing agricultural equipment into the economy and you try to take something out of that person in the way of import duty, that will discourage the person, and that is what we are saying. It is not that anybody took that money or that Customs compromised in the course of their services.

“Concessions are in the interest of Nigeria, to encourage importers who are going into specific areas of the economy. There is a trade-off here between importers and the country, particularly the things you think you are generating,” he said.

Talking about the rate of unemployment in Nigeria, which he described as “very high,” Senator Jibrin Isah said: “Customs is not the only employer of Labour. They can only employ the number they believe they can adequately take care of, and we are putting them under pressure to exceed the 1,600 benchmark.

“We may not get beyond 2000, but for sure, we will get 1,600, and as we all know, there are so many unemployed Nigerians out there. I will always say that it is difficult for the Nigeria Customs Service to absorb all unemployed Nigerians, but they can only employ those they can.”

Answering questions from the lawmakers, the Comptroller General of Customs disclosed that the service is seeking approval from government to allow them to give waivers to owners of smuggled cars to allow them to regularise their payment of customs duties.

Adeniyi said with the approval, Customs could ask those in possession of illegally imported vehicles to, within a window of, say, three months, take the opportunity to go to Customs House for assessment and payment of duties.

This, he said, will be done after adequate publicity so that those who find themselves in such a situation can get their vehicles regularised through the payment of duties.

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