The Senate has alerted the Nigeria Customs Service that the N5.079tn 2024 revenue target of the agency will be reviewed upwards from the second half of the year to save the country from further borrowings.
According to The PUNCH, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Customs, Isah Jibrin, stated this on Monday at a crucial meeting with the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Adewale Adeniyi, and top management officials of the revenue agency.
He said, “First of all, 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 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 additional loans we are going to take. Customs is in a very good position. If they are able to 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 concessions given to some sectors of the economy, for example, agriculture, the Kogi East senator said it was for operators in the agricultural services and solid minerals, whose services have a direct impact on the economy.
He said, “If somebody is bringing agricultural equipment into the economy and you try to take something out of that person in a 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 Customs compromised in the course of their services.
“Concessions are in the interest of Nigeria to encourage importers who are going into specific areas in the economy. There is a trade-off here between importers and the country, particularly the things you think you are generating.”
Talking about the rate of unemployment in Nigeria, which he described as “very high”, Senator Jibrin 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 2,000, but for sure, we will get 1,6000 and as we all know, there are so many unemployed Nigerians out there. I will always say, 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 CG disclosed that Customs was seeking approval from the government to allow them to grant waivers to owners of smuggled cars so they could regularise their payment of Customs duties.