The Senate joint committee on Customs, Excise and Tarrif and Marine Transport has recovered the sum of N140 billion identified as monies gotten through leakages and irregularities from the activities of the Nigerian Customs Service.
The Senate had received reports on the sharp practices in the Service and quickly mandated the committees to carry out a holistic investigation with a view to identifying irregularities and causes of the declining revenue profile and come up with recommendations.
The leakages, the Senate said, involved the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Shippers Council, shipping companies and operators of bonded terminals.
On Wednesday, the chairman of Customs, Excise and Tarrifs committee, Senator Hope Uzodinma (Imo West) and that of Marine transport, Ahmed Rufai Sani (Zamfara West) presented the report of the mandated committees in plenary.
Uzodinma said out of the N140 billion recovered, N128 billion was remittances some collection banks made to the Central Bank of Nigeria, while N12 billion was the payments that were made to government voluntarily by selected 60 companies based on their own internal self-audit.
According to him, major sources of revenue losses in the import and export value chain such as undervaluation, wrong tariff, misuse of procedure codes, abuse of waivers and concessions, abuse of diplomatic cargo and personal effects, as well as transfer of value, assigning higher value on pre-arrival assessment report, among others were found.
He noted that the infractions within the system disproportionately distort the economic profile of the country and place extensive pressure on the nation’s scarce foreign exchange.
The lawmaker stated that the leakages and irregularities are aggravated when superimposed with the prevalent weak regulatory systems as is currently administered by the various agencies and authorities within the import and export value chain.
Revealing how the manipulations are carried out in the industry, Uzodinma said private terminal operators who owns or possess significant interests in a shipping company, warehouse, clearing agency have essentially encircled the import and export chain.
He stated that the selection of companies that were used to establish the facts of the investigation cumulatively represent less than 1 per cent of the entire import and export value chain and asked for additional time to conclude the exercise.
The deputy Senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary, applauded the report and announced the resolution of the Senate to grant the committee eight weeks to enable it deliver a compelling and compressive report.