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Rice Waiver Abuse: Senate calls for ban

The Nigerian Senate has today urged the federal Government to stop all waivers and issuing of waivers on importation of rice and other agricultural rice waiver senateproducts and constitute an ad-hoc committee of the senate to look into all waivers, concessions and grants and carry out a holistic review to determine the full recovery of all Government revenue related to such matters. This resolution is coming as a response to the indiscriminate use and abuse of waivers for rice in the nation sponsored by senator Rafiu Ibrahim - Kwara-South.

The senate notes the federal Government has a policy to encourage agriculture and agriculture business as a deliberate policy to diversify the economy;

observes, that this policy especially relating to agriculture has become significantly eroded and gradually made nonsense of, by the indiscriminate abusive grant of waivers, concessions and grants especially on rice importation;

observes, that the fragrant abuse of the waiver scheme has severely eroded the Federal Government’s Rice Production Policy by importing huge qualities of the commodity in excess of their approved quota;

notes, that during the past recess and during an interactive session with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the CBN had revealed to the senate how these importers have overshot their quota and now owe the Federal Government duties running into billions of naira; observes,

that these importers ordinarily should be paying in addition to the duty on the commodity, a fine of 70 percent of duties and levies to the Federal Government, the government has failed to implement this directive and denied our people legitimate revenue into the Federal Government coffers;

observes, that some of the defaulting companies had notwithstanding their default been awarded fresh waivers to import more within the last few days of the previous administration;

observes, that the Customs Service, which ought to be enforcing compliance to duty and other revenue at the borders, has failed to carry out its mandate and enforce compliance from these defaulters;

acknowledges, that the Federal Government loses annually, N71billion on duty waivers especially to importers of rice, palm oil, energy equipment, steel and vegetable oil;

observes, that in 2011, government gave import duty waivers to 10 rice and palm oil importing companies alone amounting to N150 billion;

also notes, that to lose this vast amount of revenue at a time when Nigeria’s main source of revenue-oil, has plunged to record lows impacting on the fiscal stability of the country is reckless and does not show that we are serious about driving our economic revival; and

observes, that these tax incentives offered to encourage Foreign Direct Investments (FDI), into the country is now doing more harm than good to the economy as monies which could have been invested in public schools, hospitals, roads and other social infrastructure are lost mindlessly without consequences.

Earlier, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume- Borno-South, drew the attention of the senate to the Nation Newspaper Publication of thursday, Both July, 2015, front page, captioned “motion: 22 APC Northern Senators working against Buhari.” He claimed the publication impugned on his privilege as a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and urged the senate to look into the matter. In the same vein, Senator George Thompson Sekibo- Rivers-East, drew the attention of the senate to C A P A20, section 18, of the law of the Federal of Nigeria of 2004 and 2010, claiming both laws are supposedly one but were however different in content. Sekibo told the senate that such act impugned his privilege as a senator having not gone through the Constitution amendment procedures of the National Assembly.

The senate referred the petitions to relevant committees.

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