Customs: Tin-canIsland And Seme Commands Initiate Measures To Boost Revenue In 2019

By Stephen Ubanna

When the Tin Island Command was given a revenue target of N354.66 billion last  year from the total of  1.3 trillion set by  Hameed Ali, a retired Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, and his management team last year, the Command was optimistic of surpassing it. This is because of the performance in 2017, where it surpassedd its N310 billion target by  48 percent. The Command optimism was based on the volume of traffic passing through the port.

 Abdullahi  Musa, a world Customs Organisation, WCO, trained valuation officer may not have expected there could be drop in the volume of traffic passing through the port within the year that affected its revenue generation. It was therefore not very surprising that the Command which was used to surpassing its yearly revenue target failed to do so in 2018.  

Insiders informed The Value News that the Command generated about N343.38 billion or 97 percent of the revenue target set for it in 2018. Many believe that the Command could not have achieved that much both for the strategic measures put in place  to block areas of revenue leakage by Musa, the Area Comptroller.

 One of such areas of revenue leakage in the Command was the undervaluation of bulk cargoes. The Customs Comptroller may have found an answer to the problem by introducing one Ibrahim, an Assistant Comptroller to oversee the Bulk cargoes import and he was said to have successfully blocked all the loopholes used by such bulk  importers to defraud the government.

 He was said to have made the Bulk cargoes importers realise that they must do the right thing or be given a Demand Notice that they would find it difficult to pay. A source confirmed that the revenue generated by the Command from Bulk cargo imports increased last year that Musa beamed his searchlight on the importers.

In spite of the fact that the Command could not meet its revenue target in 2018, Musa  and his officers appeared to  have gone back to the drawing board to re-strategise on how to improve the revenue generation of the Command in 2019 by blocking all areas of revenue leakage and ensuring that the country’s fiscal policy measures are fully implemented for proper valuation of imports.

 Although, the Customs Authorities have not come out with any revenue target this year, the Tin-can Island Customs boss was said to have prepared the mind of the officers to work towards surpassing the revenue target that might be set for the Command.

Muhammmed Ubah Garba: Comptroller Seme Command

The Value News finding shows that the Command Examination, releasing and gate officials have tightened their noose on importers both general merchandise and Bulk cargo importers with their agents  by taking closer a look on their documents  to ensure  full Compliance to the government fiscal policy.

Uche Egesieme, a Superintendent of Customs and the Command Spokesman reportedly said that they have embarked on sensitisation of stakeholders on the need to adhere strictly to compliance to government trade policies as it sustains the tempo of its trade facilitation drive. Egesieme disclosed that the Area Comptroller and his Management team have already hit the ground running with the retraining of officers and men of the Command to ensure that all revenue leakages are blocked at the port.

The Strategic measures put in place by the Command to boost the revenue of the Command may not be different from the steps taken by Muhammed Uba Garba, Comptroller, Seme Command who has succeeded in blocking areas of revenue leakage in the Command such as abuse of ETLS and underpayment.

 This is evident going by the revenue that was said to have been generated by the Command in the last quarter of 2018 since he took over effective control of the Command. The N623.03 billion generated by the Command in the month of December alone, speaks volume, of what the Customs Authorities should expect in 2019 from the Command.

Many believe that the Command was able to make  76 percent of the N8 billion set for it in 2018 because of the measures he was said to have put in place in the last quarter of 2018, which an agent confirmed could have been worse. The agent noted that Garba, the Seme Comptroller may have been forced to do a rethink on how to boost the revenue of the Command as the high revenue yielding items such as foreign parboiled and vehicles had been banned from coming into the country through the land border areas. Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had banned the importation of foreign rice and vehicles through the land border on January 1, 2017, forcing many importers with their agents to go into smuggling of the items into the country.  

Stakeholders who spoke to The Value News disclosed that  Seme-Krake, Joint Border Community  regarded as the busiest International Border in the West African  sub-region remained a shadow of itself for much of last year because of low cargo.

 But Garba, the area Comptroller, insistence on trade Compliance and his sensitization Campaigns on the dangers of smuggling of prohibited goods into the country on the economy may have forced many importers who relocated to Idiroko, in Ogun Command or other land border areas to return to the Command to do their business.

Companies and individuals were also said to have cashed in on his sensitisation Campaigns to export Agricultural produce approved by the government and made in Nigeria goods, particular, to other countries in West and Central African sub-region,  to benefit from the 0.5 percent export incentive and other grants. This may have brought back life to the Seme-Krake Border Community.

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