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FG bans importation of rice through land borders

DETERMINED to block revenue loopholes, the Federal Government has banned importation of rice into Nigeria through the country’s land borders. The decision, which was taken in a bid to stem the increasing smuggling of rice, leading to loss of revenue, is expected to net government several billions.

Impeccable sources told the Nigerian Tribune that while the government had no intention of banning the importation of rice, it could, however, no longer afford to continue to lose revenue as a result of duty evasion by smugglers.

“Importation of rice, henceforth, must have to come into Nigeria through the seaports. Government believes that is probably the most viable way to ensure that while the commodity continues to come into the country, no one will have an unfair opportunity to escape payment of required customs duty,” the source further disclosed.

The source said over 19,000 bags of the 50kg of rice were intercepted and impounded in 2010 alone  in the South-West zone.

Providing a breakdown, the top Customs officer observed that 12,351 bags were impounded from the Idiroko axis; 1,037 came from Seme border; 977 bags from the Western Marine, while operatives from the Federal Operations Unit, Zone ‘A’ Ikeja seized no fewer than 9,277 bags from the smugglers.

When the Customs Controller General, Alhaji Dikko Inde Abdullahi, was contacted, he confirmed it, stressing that the ban was with immediate effect.

It will be recalled that rice importers are  required by the law to pay a Customs duty of 20 per cent in addition to a 20 per cent levy, a condition those who engage in smuggling often try to evade, thereby enabling them either to sell at the market price and make excessive profits; or sell slightly below the actual market price and thereby undercut honest importers who pay correct duty to the government.

-Tribune

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