Thursday 3 December 2015

Senate kicks as Customs eased ban on rice importation

Nigerian Customs Service
The Senate in Nigeria has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to maintain the ban on rice importation through land borders which had been removed by the Customs.

In a report submitted at plenary by the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Import Duty, Waivers and Concessions, the committee stated that the decision of the Nigerian Customs Service to unilaterally lift the ban on rice importation through the land borders would adversely affect and disrupt the gains of the rice policy.

Rice is a major staple in the diet of many Nigerians and because of this high consumption, the government has always paid attention to its production and importation.

The eight Senate, since its inauguration, has also given considerable attention to issues concerning the food crop.

In Octobers 2015, a federal lawmaker brought to the attention of lawmakers that the Comptroller General of Customs lifted a ban on rice importation through land borders.

The lawmaker said the decision by the Nigeria Customs Service to allow importation of rice through land borders would escalate smuggling in the country.

The Senate mandated an ad-hoc committee on waivers and concessions to investigate the matter and report back to the Senate.

During the public hearing, the committee raised an alarm that two foreign companies involved in rice importation Stallion Group and Olam International owe Nigeria 44 billion Naira as import duties.

At the plenary on Wednesday, the Chairman of the Committee reported the findings of its investigation to the senate after which a debate on the matter was thrown open.

After the debate, the Senate approved the recommendation of the committee urging the Federal Government to reverse the decision to lift the ban on rice importation through land borders.

To boost production of rice in Nigeria, the Central Bank had last month launched an Anchor Borrowers Programme for rice and wheat farmers to advance their status from small holder farmers to commercial or large growers.

At the launch of the programme in Kebbi State on Tuesday, President Muhammadu Buhari expressed optimism that the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme had a potential of creating millions of jobs and lifting thousands of small holder farmers out of poverty.

Credit: Channels

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