From Ngozi Onyeakusi, Lagos
The chairman, senate joint committee on customs, excise and tariff and marine transport, Mr. Hope Uzodinma has said that the committee recovered N140 billion from investigated companies.
Presenting the committee’s interim report on the floor, Uzodinma said some collection banks had so far remitted N128 billion to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) while, from the selected 60 companies under investigation, over N12 billion payments has been made to government.
“As a result of this exercise, some collection banks have made additional remittances to the Central Bank of Nigeria to the tune of N128 billion and evidence of payment and receipt has been received by the committee.
“From the selected 60 companies, over N12 Billion payments have been made to the government voluntarily by the companies based on their own internal self-audit after receiving documented evidence of their culpability from our committee,” he said.
He also said the panel had identified 32 leakage channels as the major sources of revenue loss in the import-export value chain.
The leakage channels include undervaluation, wrong tariff classification, abuse of waivers and concessions, abuse of diplomatic cargo and personal effects privilege to clear consignments to submission of forged documents for pre-arrival assessment report (PAARS) and single goods declarations (SDGS) processing, pre-arrival assessment report (PAAR) used for more than one single goods declaration, non-utilization of pre-arrival assessment report (PAAR) after single goods declaration (SGD) cancellation and mismatch and discrepancies in consignees, goods description and tariff classification.
Other sources of leakage identified by the committee include falsification of import documentation such as pro forma invoice, final invoice, bills of lading, National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and Standards Organisation of Nigeria Conformity Assessment Programme (SONCAP).
There are also issues like non-imputation of complete vehicle identification number (VIN) in inspection acts and bills of lading in order to undervalue vehicles, clearance of new vehicles without form M or pre-arrival assessment report (PAAR) processing in clear violation of destination inspection, abuse of temporary importation by conversion to home use without payment of import duties, falsification of factory production registers, inaccurate unit cost analysis (UCA) and returns leading to significantly low excise duty collected as compared to actual large scale volumes of excisable commodities locally manufactured.
Other sources of revenue losses include abuse of fast track blue lane, illegal creation, amendment, and cancellation of single goods declaration (SGDs), pre-arrival assessment reports (PAARs) and bills of lading, and importation under pretext of completely knocked down privilege reserved for bona fide manufactures leading to reduction in import duties payable among others.
Uzodinma noted that the infractions disproportionately distorted the economic profile of the country and placed extensive pressures on the nation’s scarce foreign exchange.
“It also negates all Central Bank of Nigeria initiated foreign exchange management plans. This is because a distorted forex requirement does not essentially reflect the actual forex need of individuals and businesses in the country. This situation benefits only the purveyors of capital flight from the country and adds absolutely no value to the nation,” he added.
It would be recalled that the joint committee was set up by the senate to carry out a holistic investigation into the activities of the Nigeria Customs Services (NCS) with a view to identifying leakages and irregularities in the system and come up with recommendations that will reinvigorate the revenue drive of the NCS.