The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has suspended First Bank Plc from participating in Customs duty collection scheme.
â€œThe bankâ€™s suspension follows the involvement of its officials in fraudulent diversion of duty payments due to the Federal Government of Nigeria,â€ the NCS Public Relations Officer, Assistant Comptroller Wale Adeniyi, stated in a release made available to Ships & Ports.
Adeniyi explained that the Comptroller-General of Customs Alhaji Dikko Inde Abdullahi mandated the CDITs to expose high profile duty evaders.
The Customs spokesperson quotes the Customs chief as having vowed that the Service will take all necessary steps to recover the diverted funds, while it would deal with individuals or organizations who connived with the duty evaders.
According to Adeniyi, since the beginning of its operations the CDITs have uncovered duty underpayments to the tune of over N12billion.
â€œThe revenue shortfall which is threatening the realization of the 2009 revenue target of N650billion were largely attributable to high incidence of unpaid assessments, use of fake or cloned receipts, use of manual payments and unremitted collections by the banksâ€, Adeniyi said
He added that so far, over N6billion have been recovered by the CDITs, which operations have now been extended to the Eastern Ports.
Meanwhile the current economic meltdown and dwindling oil revenue has reduced government earnings from external sources thereby increasing the need for internally generated revenue.
Government agencies, like Customs, responsible for the collection of internally generated revenue for the Federal Government had their targets almost tripled in the current fiscal year in order to meet this demand.
Ships & Ports investigations have however, revealed that Customs may not meet the revenue target of N650 billion set for it by the Federal Government.
The current drop in cargo throughput and the cash crunch facing port operators as a result of the banks not offering credit facilities to the importers and their agents for regular transactions are key factors hampering Customs revenue.
At the NCS premier area command, the Apapa Area 1 Command, only N138 billion was collected in the first 10 months of the year against a revenue target of N244 billion.
With just two months to the end of the year, the Command has been predicted to fall short of its revenue target by as much as 33 per cent or about N80 billion.