• as Reps lament hitches hampering cost of doing business
Authorities of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on Tuesday accused Elites and heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of patronizing smuggled vehicles.
Assistant Comptroller General (ACG) in charge of modernization of Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Mr Saidu Galadima disclosed this during an interactive session with the House of Representatives Committee on Customs & Excise, chaired by Hon Leke Abejide.
He however observed that the list of Elites does not include members of the National Assembly.
Mr Galadima who frowned at the development said: “Unfortunately today the big men today in Nigeria, I didn’t say National Assembly members, all their escort vehicles – Hilux are smuggled vehicles.
“MDAs patronize smuggled Hilux vehicles. That is why if you go to our system, the number of Hilux importation has dropped but you find hundreds of them in town. Mostly used as escorts, if you make an amendment to the next Finance Act to make an amendment to Procurement Act that before a vehicle is taken over, you verify the custom duty it would go a long way.
“NCS buys Hilux vehicles, but they do not take delivery until when the papers are verified that duty is paid. As I am talking to you now many officers are before the board meeting for discipline for this offence.”
Speaking earlier, Hon Abejide unveiled ongoing plans toward repealing some provisions in the Customs and Excise Management Act, with a view to reducing the cumbersome process of containers transfer within the ports.
As part of ongoing efforts geared toward reducing cost of doing business in the country, Hon Abejide underscored the need to reduce the bureaucratic bottlenecks and number of days for clearance of cargoes/containers at the ports.
He said: “One of the reasons we are doing this interactive session is because we are already working on the Customs and Excise Management Act. We want to have an agreement with Customs on a common ground, like all these transfer process, it is going to be there.
But we don’t want to do it alone, we want to do it with them. We should receive it in this committee by this week. So when the Act comes we are going to sit down on it and look at it and see how we can help them. We are working on the Act.
“Customs are short of men. We went out and all the complaints when we went to the command is that they are short of men and you. Customs is supposed to be 30,000 men, but they are 15,000. They cannot recruit the remaining 50 percent unless they have money. Customs is underfunded. They are taking seven percent of duty on items. This cannot help Customs to recruit. This is one of the things we are doing.”
Speaking on the issue of elites and MDAs patronizing smuggled vehicles, Hon
Abejide suggested that the executive arm of government has to do something about the borders, so they can be tight enough.
He also appealed to the agency to give three months extension so as to enable those who brought in their vehicles without paying duties to do so.
He opined that failure of the defaulters to pay up within the specified time, they should be prosecuted and jailed.
“Try to improve the checks on this. We too in government we need to encourage the executive. Someone asked me why our borders were the way they are. In other countries they are built with wall but ours is just an iron used to block the road. The executive arm of government has to do something about the borders, so they can be tight enough,” he said.
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