By godfrey bivbere
Federal Government has banned the importation of rice through land borders with immediate effect as a means of reducing the increasing smuggling of the product in a bid to short change government of accruable revenue from such imports.
The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, Alhaji Dikko Abdullahi, who confirmed the development, Vanguard learnt was part of measures by government to block all duty evasion by smugglers.
The Customs boss said, “the ban takes immediate effect.”
As source close to the Customs hinted Vanguard of the development, noting that the decision was not to ban the importation of rice, a commodity which is staple food in the country, from being imported, but to protect the economy.
According to the source, “all rice henceforth must come into Nigeria now through the sea ports. Government believes that this is probably the most viable way to ensure that while the commodity continues to come into the country, no one will have an unfair opportunity to escape payment of required customs duty.”
The source pointed out that but for the efforts of Customs, smugglers had planned to make a field day of rice smuggling, as over 19,000 bags of 50 kilogrammes were intercepted in 2010 alone from smugglers in the South-Western zone.
Providing a breakdown, the top Customs officer observed that 12,351 bags were impounded from the Idiroko axis, 1,037 came from Seme Border, over 977 from the Western Marine and another 1,037 was seized. Crack operatives from the Federal Operations Unit Zone ‘A’ also snatched about 9,277 bags from smugglers.
It would be recalled that rice importers were required by the law to pay a Customs duty of 20 percent in addition to a 20 percent levy, a condition those who engage in smuggling often strive to evade.
Therefore, they sell at the true market price and make excessive profits; or sell slightly below the actual market price and spoil the market for honest importers who imported their commodity and paid correct duty to the government before going to market to sell.