By Musa Adamu
The Nigerian Customs Service ( NCS), declared Thursday that it had generated N573 billion between January and May this year from total targeted revenue of N957 billion for the 2020 fiscal year .
The Comptroller General of Customs , Hameed Ali , stated this during an interactive session on revenue generation with the Senate Committee on Customs .
But the Senate Committee on Customs , took up the agency on non- remittance of operation surplus every year .
In his submission before the Committee, the Customs CG, represented by Deputy Comptroller General ( DCG) in charge of Human Resources, Sanusi Abubakar Umar , said Customs was able to realise more than half of the targeted revenue for the year due to blockage of identified leakages .
“As a result of blocking of identified areas of leakages and free flow of traffic for importers during the COVID-19 lockdown , our revenue generation increased rapidly to about N6 to N7billion per day , making us to rake in N573billion within five months which is more than half of the N957billion targeted revenues for us in 2020.
“Fom January to May this year, the performance of the budget is N37, 865867750 representing 15.90%
The target given to the service in terms of revenue was N1.6trillion but due to the COVID-19 pandemic the target was reviewed to N957billion . As at January to May, the service had collected N573, 190, 265, 605.21billion “, he said.
The Customs CG was however taken up by the committee members on non- remittance of surpluses made every year , particularly in 2018 and 2019.
Specifically , a member of the committee and retired Custom officer , Senator Francis Adenigba Fadaunsi ( PDP Osun East), acussed the agency of not reflecting the surpluses in their reports before the committee .
“ In 2019 alone , you made surplus of N34billion which is not reflected in the 2020 reports before us”, he said.
Another member of the Committee, Senator Sulaiman Kwari ( APC Kaduna North), pointedly challenged officials of Customs to explain what they do with such surpluses.
But the Customs DC in his response told the Committee that the revenue generating agency is not a treasury -sponsored agency expected to make returns to the treasury any amount not spent.
“Customs is now a performance-based agency. We are not a treasury-sponsored agency, which normally makes return to the treasury any amount not spent.
“Where we have any shortfall, we don’t have anybody backing us and we cannot borrow from the bank”, he said.
Members of the Committee led by Senator Francis Alimikhena (APC Edo North ) , however disagreed on whether to revert the targeted revenue for Customs in 2020 to N1.6trillion as earlier passed in December or retained it at N957billion proposed in the revised budget .
While Senator Gyang Istifanus Dung ( PDP Plateau North ) , called for upward review of the targetted revenue , Senator Adamu Aliero ( APC Kebbi Central), kicked against it .
According to Aliero , the N957billion targetted in the revised budget is even not realisable as effects of COVID-19 will start reflecting in the agency’s revenue collection from July .
The Chairman of the Committee , Alimikhena and Senator Fadaunsi however told the Customs officers to sustain the tempo of high revenues intake the agency recorded within the last five months .
Fadaunsi specifically said that target is a lazy way of collecting revenues .
“ Customs can do more than it has done within the last five months in terms of revenue collections if other ports like PortHarcourt and Calabar are focused upon like Lagos .
“ We cannot continue to approve loan everyday just government too cannot continue to be financing budget with borrowings every year .
“ Enough revenues must be generated by relevant agencies like Customs . The very reason this committee invited its top management staff for brainstorming on way out “ , he said .