The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has re-introduced the restriction order on importation of rice through land borders across the country.
This is contained in a statement issued to pressmen by the NCS Spokesman, Wale Adeniyi.
The statement said that the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd) gave the approval for the reversal of an earlier policy in October 2015 which allowed imports of rice through the land borders, with appropriate duty and charges paid.
It said the decision was taken at a review session held with Comptrollers of Border Commands and
Federal Operation Units in Abuja.
The Service noted that the dwindling revenue from rice imports through the land borders do not match the volume of rice landed in neighboring ports.
`”Rather, reports from Border commands indicated an upsurge in the tempo of rice smuggling. It added.
The statement also said that the implementation of the restriction order started smoothly with a high level of compliance in October 2015.
However, revenue started dwindling from January 2016, with importers blaming access to Forex as major impediments.
It said that during the five-month period when the importation was allowed between October 2015 to March 17, 2016, a total of 24.992 tonnes of rice valued at N 2.33billion (Two billion, three hundred and thirty five million, one hundred and thirty one thousand and ninety three naira) were imported through the land borders.
Also, during the period, a total revenue of N1.68 billion (One billion, six hundred and eighty five million, one hundred and twelve thousand, eight Hundred and ten naira only) was generated. This indicated that the revenue was considerably lower than the projected revenue to be generated with the removal of restrictions.
The statement, however, said that an upsurge in the number of seizures had been reported across the land borders since January 2016.
“In the first two months of 2016, a total of 9,238 bags were seized, with Duty Paid Value of N64,66 million made by the Customs anti-smuggling patrol teams of Federal operations and Border commands.” It said.
According to the statement, the comptroller-general noted that his officers and men cannot be totally exonerated from the abuse associated with the implementation of the order on rice, as his office has been inundated with reports of collusion between them and rice importers.
It said he has already directed investigation into the reports, insisting that any personnel found wanting, will be sanctioned.
The comptroller-general directed a zero-tolerance to rice imports through the land borders irrespective of volume with immediate effect.
The CG gave importers who had already initiated import processes a grace period ending Friday, March 25, 2016 to clear their consignments, the statement concluded.