Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) generated N198.5 billion in the first quarter of 2016, a N50 billion increase from N148.5 billion reported in the fourth quarter of 2015 amid low business activity, which has largely affected the volume of imported commodities.
The figure is however lower than the recorded N221.6 billion revenues of the Service in the first quarter of 2015, a situation that now raises doubt as to whether it can meet the ambitious N1 trillion target for 2016 fiscal year.
As government incomes tighten across board on account of low oil prices, the NCS has set a target of N1 trillion revenue collections for the Federal Government this year.
Hammed Ali, comptroller general of customs, says he is resolved to meet this target and help government rev up non-oil revenues, and had in January identified blocking of leakages, adoption of workable strategies to improve the service activities at the country’s borders as well as transparency and compliance with the rule of law among men and officials of the Service as key to meeting the 2016 revenue targets.
Earlier in the year, Ali, coming with the thinking that staff of the Service were aiding and abating smuggling at the country’s borders and undermining his efforts at meeting set targets, gave the officers two weeks to declare their assets.
The directive mandating all officers and men of the NCS to make full disclosure of their assets was a measure put in place to push transparency and compliance with the Rule of Law in the Service.
Figures of the revenues generated by the Service as obtained by BusinessDay show that it generated N74.4 billion in January, N62.9 in February and N61.3 in March 2016.
In the first quarter of 2015, NCS, which had a revenue target of N944 billion (in 2015) recorded N73.2 billion revenue in January, N69.5 billion in February, and N78.9 billion in March.
While the NCS was unable to match the N977.09 billion it generated in 2014 as well as the N944 2015 targets, it however generated N387.96 billion from September to December 2015 under Alli’s watch. This feat many analysts attributed to the new reforms introduced by the leadership of the Service under Ali, who in an overzealous effort to raise income had removed earlier rice import restriction through the country’s land borders in October last year.
But he had to re-introduce the restriction order as the Service report indicated an upsurge in the tempo of rice smuggling through neighbouring borders.