The Nigeria Customs Service has attributed the N26.5billion decline in its revenue projections for the 2016 fiscal year to the sharp decline in the volume of goods imported into the country.

The service was given a revenue target of N1trillion for the 2016 fiscal year out of which it only generated N720.7 billion, representing 76.9 per cent of the projection, covering the period between January and December 2016.

This also representis a shortfall of N216.5 billion or 23.11 per cent.

Comptroller General of the service, Col. Hameed Ali, who appeared before the House of Representatives, Nigeria’s lower legislative chamber, said there has been a sharp decline in the volume of imports into the country, which would naturally lead to decline in revenue.

“With the inevitable reduction in the volume of goods imported into the country, it was only logical that the duty and other taxes collectable will also drop”.

“However in a bid to be more realistic with our revenue target, Customs is targeting N772.8 billion revenue for the 2017 fiscal year, which is lower by N164.45 billion or 17.54 per cent compared to that of the 2016 figures”, he said emphatically.

In addition to the decline in import volumes in relation to the current economic realities in the country, the CG also blamed the dwindling revenue profile of the service on some policies of the Federal Government policies, especially those that have to do with the Foreign Exchange regime.

He cited the exclusion of 41 items of import by the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN, from sourcing foreign exchange from the official market, which rate is lower compared to the parallel market, which is higher.

He explained that government policies which saw the expansion of the import prohibition list as solely responsible for the drop.

The CG said; “Larger chunk of our revenue collection is from imports and so when there is a decline in import volumes as a result of policies of the government there is nothing any one can do since such policies are also in the overall interest of the national economy”.

Chairman of House Committee on Customs, James Faleke, who coordinated the visit of the CG, chared the service to seek ways of boosting its revenue, especially the imposition of special levies on luxury goods imported into the country.

The CG however noted that there is no legal framework for the service to enforce such policy, insisting that as soon as there was one, the service would not hesítate to enforce it

On the reason for the ban on importation of vehicles through land borders, the CGi said it was injurious to the nation’s growth as only the country’s next door neighbour, Benin Republic, was the sole beneficiary.

“More than 99.9 per cent of vehicles imported into the Republic of Benin, more often than not end up in Nigeria, as they are smuggled into the country through the borders and other illegal activities on the land borders”.

“Why should we be growing the economy of another country when our own is facing challenges?”

“That is the point that we have been making. Vehicles from the Republic of Benin will come to Nigeria after they have collected their import duties over there. This is not acceptable”, Ali said.

The committee therefore urged officers and men of the service to improve on the activities of the service at the borders, especially through adequate surveillance and intelligence gathering.