The Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has criticized the Federal Government on the N4.1 billion revenue target set for the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in the 2022 fiscal year, describing it as a high target that will put undue pressure on the Service.
The association also stated that the target would also undermine the revenue collection agency’s core responsibility of facilitating trade between Nigeria and other countries.
Stating the position of the association on the target, the National President, Hon. Tony Iju Nwabunike, said: “Pursuing bigger revenue and failing to strengthen trade results in greater losses to the economy as investments are either threatened, reduced or made non-existent”, adding that the totality of Customs’ efforts deployed into revenue pursuit reduces the service’s productivity in many ways”.
This is even as the ANCLA also cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari not to sign the proposed $3.1 billion Customs modernisation contract, pointing out that assenting to the contract deal will tie down the NCS to a 20-year debt repayment programme that is not necessary in view of the country’s burgeoning debt stock and the deleterious effects on revenue accruals.
Nwabunike said: “We want to also advise the Federal Government to be careful before signing into the $3.1 billion Customs Modernisation Project which we heard, will run for 20 years. We urge President Muhammadu Buhari and the Finance Minister to avoid assenting to the deal.
“Nigeria is already in serious debts and customs being a strategic non-oil revenue earner for government shouldn’t be tied to another long term debt repayment for two decades.
“On this, we call on the National Assembly to take a closer look at the details and ensure that the Federal Ministry of Finance, Nigeria Customs Service and all parties involved observe due diligence that won’t entrap the country in another long term debt repayment for 20 years and maybe for lesser value,” the ANCLA President added.
He commended the Federal Government on its recent inauguration of an expanded partnership committee on blue economy chaired by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, describing the initiative as a very bold step in the right direction.
According to him, “this shows more commitment by the Buhari administration to maritime matters. We urge the committee to go beyond conference room talk and paperwork to addressing real challenges militating against full harvesting of our marine environment benefits in a sustainable manner.”
The ANCLA chief also charged the government to ensure that it includes the ANLCA in some of its committees, saying that as a body of Customs brokers, practitioners and investors,the association’s members have vast experience in trade matters.