Lagos, NIGERIA – The Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), an NGO based in Nigeria working on corruption in a letter dated 7th November, 2013 requesting the Nigeria Customs Service to supply the list of beneficiaries of custom duty waivers covering the period of January to September, 2013.
When the scandal of abuse of office and fraud in the aviation sector, involving the Aviation Minister, hit the newsstand, the investigative journalist most probably is oblivious of potential casualty figure to result therefrom. The country was treated to a bizarre exposure of abuse and misapplication of import duty waiver, associated with the EKO National sports festival, by Coscharis Motors. The Nigeria Custom Service last week revealed the country’s loss of a total of N603 billion as a result of waivers and duty exemptions granted by the Federal Government in the last nine months (January-September, 2013). This revelation was made on November 4th, 2013 during the Comptroller General’s appearance before the Joint Senate Committees on Finance and Appropriation, investigating reports of alleged over-bloating of the 2013 budget.
According to the Customs, the sharp decline in the revenue collected by the agency during the year is caused by government policies which granted waivers and concessions on some imported and excisable goods. Also, of the projected revenue of N718 billion for the months of January to August, only N530 billion was collected by the agency, reflecting a shortfall of about N188 billion within the period. The losses were incurred, in the words of the Comptroller General, as a result of waivers on petroleum products, manufacturers and assemblers, revenue concessioned to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), import substitution and industrialization.
The petition quoted the Customs boss, during his testimony before the panel, to have also said that the government policies on waivers and import duty exemption on some imported goods and free trade zones are being abused by traders, with adverse effect on the estimated revenue that should have been generated by the Nigeria Customs Service from January to end of September, 2013.
The Custom boss further expatiated on the loss with the breakdown as N86 billion from waivers and import duty exemption on NDDC’s imported equipment alone; about N264 billion from waivers on petroleum products; N76 billion from manufacturers and assemblers; and N105 billion revenue loss on import duty as a result of the Federal Government’s ban on rice importation, among others.
The custom’s record was said to have shown that the nation lost only N276.9 billion between 2000 and 2008. While in 2011, the sum of N37.2 billion was lost as a result of import waivers to importers of raw materials, which informed Federal Government’s stoppage of import waivers in 2012. Grants given to export-oriented companies and local manufacturers to export raw materials were sold to dealers who in-turn use them to import cars into the country. The recent abuse and misapplication of government waiver by Coscharis Motors succinctly confirm previous assertions of your service.
The list of beneficiaries of these numerous waivers is being demanded from the Customs service under Sections 2, 3, 4 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 by CSNAC. The custom is expected to respond within 7 days of the receipt of such application, in accordance with the Act.
Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC) is a coalition of over hundred and fifty Anti Corruption organizations whose primary aim is to constructively combat corruption vigorously and to ensure the effective monitoring of the various Anti-graft agencies in its activities in the fight against corruption and to enthrone transparency, accountability, probity, and total commitment in the fight to eradicate corruption in Nigeria.