The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Hameed Ali, on Wednesday admitted the revenue target of the service for 2016 was short of target by N 216.5 billion.
The custom boss made this known while addressing journalists shortly before appearing before the House of Representatives’ Committee to defend the Customs 2017 budget proposal.
Mr. Ali also admitted that the service collected a total of N 720.7 billion, representing almost 77 per cent of the target revenue between January and December 2016.
Based on the revenue target of N 937.3 billion set for the year, the custom boss said the agency was short by 23 per cent
Giving a breakdown of revenue accruals, he said a total of N177.9 billion was collected as Value Added Tax on imports, bringing the total revenue collection to N898.6 billion.
He, however, blamed the shortfall on the inability of the agency to implement a new policy which was meant to tax luxury items consumed by the rich.
According to him, Customs could not carry on with the policy because there was no legal backing to enforce the policy.
He noted that luxury goods imported into the country throughout 2016 did not attract any levy as earlier anticipated.
He said, “There was no legal backing to enforce the collection of the proposed levy on luxury items. There was no importation of polished rice in the period under review,” Mr. Ali said.
Some of the luxury goods covered by the proposed policy, according to the customs boss, were luxury cars, champagne and furniture.
“Some of our emirs and other traditional rulers love to import Rolls Royce and very expensive cars. You have costly wines and so on for some of the super-rich. The government is saying that if you have decided to buy something out of the ordinary, you should pay a levy,” he explained.
“But, we need a legal framework and policy pronouncement by the Ministry of Finance for the Customs to enforce the levy. We have to be able to determine what to collect on the various categories of items.”
Commenting further, the customs boss explained that out of the budgeted N81.2 billion for its operations in 2016, it was only able to access N45 billion.
He, however, lamented that the NCS had to fall back on the N6.1 billion savings it had accrued, to pay salaries of its staff.