Customs blames dwindling revenue on 2019 elections

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By Innocent Eteng

The Onne Area 11 Command of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) in Rivers State has revealed a drop in revenue generation for 2018.

While fielding questions from journalists during a press briefing at the Customs House in Onne; on Friday, August 17; Abubakar Bashir, the outgoing Comptroller; said the drop might be connected to the forthcoming 2019 general elections that has allegedly lowered importation.

Though Bashir did not state how much the command has realized from January till date, he said when compared to what was generated within the same period last year, revenue generation had dropped considerably.

He however described funds realised so far in 2018 as “tremendous”.

“The revenue so far (from January to August, 2018) has been very tremendous; even though in terms of volume the volume has really reduced drastically when compared to the same Period last year,” he said. “We are looking probably because of the forthcoming election which virtually everybody is talking about, so the level of importation has reduced.”

In February, the command revealed that in 2017, it generated a total of N93.67 billion, coming only 16.74% short of the N112.5 billion target given to it from the Customs headquarters.

With the new induces, it is not clear if the command would meet its 2018 target.

But contrarily, between January and August this year, the command has made seizures more than twice the total it made in 2017, a development Bashir – while reeling out the challenges he faced during his one year and four months in charge – attributes to lack of trade compliance from importers.

“Challenges are so enormous. Both officers and operators are certainly having heart hardness in terms of attitudes. The moral to change for good has been so elusive and level of compliance has been difficult.

“Probably that is why the record of seizure we had in the corresponding period was 24 in 2017, and now from January to August, 2018, we have 50 seizures. You can see what we have in terms of compliance,” Bashir said.

With this numbers, by the end of 2018, total seizures by the command are expected to triple those of 2017. But the bulks now fall on newly resumed Comptroller, Saidu Galadima, who has promised to improve on Bashir’s achievements, paying special attention to the: “suppression of smuggling, revenue generation and protection; and more, to facilitate compliance trade.”