The Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON) has faulted the rejection by the House of Representatives Committee on Finance of the N1.33 trillion proposed as the revenue target for 2022 by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
It will be recalled that the committee at its 2022 to 2024 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework/Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP) interactive session with Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) said the amount was low.
Hon. Leke Abejide (SDP-Kogi) said that with the recent devaluation of the naira, he expected that the proposal of the NCS should be N2 trillion and above.
He said the exchange rate for 2021 was N381 to a dollar and the targeted revenue generation was N1.6 trillion adding that the service should factor in the devaluation of the naira and increase their target.
The lawmaker said the service would still surpass an upward review target adding that the new Finance Act had empowered the service to generate more revenue from alcoholic beverages and tobacco as against 2021.
Hon. Ahmed Muhktar (APC-Kaduna State) said that customs should be able to generate more revenue following the ongoing deployment of technology in revenue collection.
He said that with the number of training and retraining lined up in the NCS budget, the service should be able to generate much more than N1.33 trillion.
According to him, the committee will not accept anything less than N3 trillion.
However, speaking in an interview with our correspondent in Lagos yesterday, the President, APFFLON, Otunba Frank Ogunojemite observed that it was wrong if the leadership of this country could be using Dollar to determine the revenue target given to the Nigeria Customs Service, as according to him, it means that Nigeria does not have its own voice.
Ogunojemite noted that thinking of increasing the amount whenever revenue target for the NCS was being discussed with focus on importation; the economy of the country was being killed indirectly.
According to him, “We should be targeting our revenue from export which is akin to industrialization in the country so that people can get employed. Going by this development, one would not be wrong to assume that the federal government through the House of Representatives is admitting that Nigeria is an importing nation and that nothing can be changed.
“The country relies only on importation to rake in revenue when it needs to see how to facilitate trade and industrialization and generate money within the country. This is very sad. We must have locally produced goods for export so that government could equally make money from there.”
He wondered from who the customs would make this money if the House of Representatives was bent on having customs review upwards the proposed revenue target for next year.
He warned that if the House of Representatives Committee should have its way and have the customs adjusted its proposed revenue target for next year, it would trigger inflation in the country which according to him further plunge the nation’s economy into crisis and the Naira would further decline.
“So, generating money for the country does not have to be based on importation. We should be thinking of what we can do to improve the economy and how we can improve the agricultural sector which is capable of bringing in higher revenue earnings for the country. I believe this is a wrong approach to generating money in this country. If we focus attention on agriculture and other revenue yielding ventures, we can as well generate money.
“If you are mounting pressure on the customs, you are indirectly mounting pressure on the citizens of the country and what do you expect? Inflation, high cost of living when the per capita income is low and the higher percentage the people are jobless in the country. Government should look at the implications of this action.
“They should not look at the revenue being generated by customs from the point of view of customs is making money. There are other avenues to make money in the country which government should look at. Importation should not be emphasized by the customs hence it should not be seen as the only avenue through which government can generate money.
“Government should also look at investing in national carrier for the country. Importing from China is about $14, 500 for 40ft containers. What is the benefit for the country in shipping? No national carrier in the maritime and aviation sectors and they are talking about customs increasing projected revenue target. Most of the vessels that bring goods to the country are foreign owned; they are the ones making this money. What is our benefit as a country in this regard? There used to be all these assets before, they should focus on how to bring them back.
“As far as I am concerned, government has to look at how to facilitate trade, invest in the maritime sector in order to make it more attractive. If they can be hard on customs, why can’t they be hard on other revenue generating agencies of the government?” he queried.
The Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd.) had told the committee that the service proposed to generate the sum of N1.33 trillion in 2022.
Ali said the service came up with the figure after analysing the average revenue collection in the previous and was trying to be as realistic as possible.
Photo: Otunba Frank Ogunojemite, President, Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON).
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