Senate Uncovers N447 Billion Scam in Import Duty Waivers

Massive fraud has been uncovered by the senate of the 8th assembly amounting to billions of naira that could have been judiciously used in the improvement of the Nigerian economy.

The Senate said it has uncovered a N447.42 billion fraud allegedly perpetrated in the administration of import duty waivers, concessions and grants by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government, according to the Daily Sun.

Presenting a report during yesterday’s plenary, chairman of the Senate Adhoc Committee on Import Duty Waivers, Concessions and Grants, Senator Adamu Aliero bemoaned what he described as large-scale revenue leakages that robbed government of huge sums of money that would have been used for provision of infrastructural development and social services.

The report is a follow up to a motion moved on the floor Senate in January 2016.

According to the breakdown, the Federal Government lost  N78, 489,941,114.74 in 2011, N128, 538,453,758.99 in 2012,  N46, 056,265,355.78 in 2013 and  N87, 654,744,360.22 in 2014 through waivers, concessions and grants to different private companies who were engaged in importing goods to the country.

The report also said former president Goodluck Jonathan-led Federal Government approved N106, 711,892,098.14 as waivers, concessions and grants to private companies in 2015 alone.

He blamed the flagrant abuse of the process on lack of synergy among MDAs charged with the responsibilities of administering import duty waivers, concessions and grants.

He specifically named Federal Ministry of Finance, Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Ministry of Industries, Trade and Investment, Nigeria Export Promotion Council, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), as agencies responsible for the loopholes.

“Customs duty waivers and concessions have been used by the Budget Office of the Federation to entrench a very destructive patronage system to our economy, whereby very few operators in the economy were singled out for favours resulting to unfair competition in the system,”
Aliero noted.

Speaking specifically on waivers granted to importers of rice, Aliero said 27 companies benefited from the import quota with a total allocation of 1,434,658 metric tonnes.

He said four companies were yet to remit N23.603 billion to the Federal Government.

In the sugar sector, an estimate of N17.41 billion was lost between 2011-2012.

In the automobile sector, the committee report claimed that the then Minister of Industries, Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga granted waivers to two Lagos-based firms in 2015 to import 897 and 714 vehicles respectively.

The committee charged the Federal Government to restructure and streamline the functions and responsibilities of the Budget Office of the Federation in such a way that will prevent it from further abuses and excesses in the import duty waivers, concessions and grants process.

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