From Uche Usim, Abuja
The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Hameed Ali, on Thursday, disclosed that terrorism, banditry, other security challenges and fiscal policies collectively robbed the country a whopping N400 billion in revenue.
He said the 2022 revenue target was N3.2 trillion but the Service was able to collect N2.8 trillion, leaving a shortfall of N400 billion.
Speaking at a media briefing to mark the end of the 2023 World Customs Organization (WCO), Global Conference hosted by the NCS in Abuja, Ali said all hands must be on deck to decimate the insecurity monster that has forced many Customs formations to shut down, thus leading to heavy revenue haemorrhage and impeding trade facilitation.
He, however, expressed confidence that the action plan designed by over 40 countries who participated at the conference will go a long way to galvanise global support for Customs in various jurisdictions to better tackle the challenge of fragile borders.
Ali said: “Many Customs officers and men have been attacked by trans-border smugglers. Some were killed. From Mubi in Adamawa State to Maiduguri, a lot of Customs formations have been shut down. This was as a result of military intelligence shared with us. Now, trade facilitation in those formations are gone and terrorists now have a field day. Huge revenue has also been lost.
“That is why the issue of fragile borders and conflict areas are becoming a global challenge. “This emphasizes the need for being well equipped. Customs world over should know they’re in danger as threats rise.
“Added to the revenue loss challenge is fiscal policies that have been not been fine-tuned. We’re not collecting taxes on carbonated drinks and the telecommunications tax as well. These are areas the government can generate revenue”, he said.
In his remarks, the Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO), Kunio Mikuriya, expressed hopes that the action plan extracted from the conference would be adopted in June for immediate implementation.
“Many government agencies are looking at institutional solutions to fragile border issues. We’re looking at infrastructure assistance, like using satellite images which are now available. “Training of personnel is key tp handle modern day threats. Global advocacy is also important to incorporate Customs into national security. We’re looking at how we can get support from international community to boost Customs operations”, he said.