Minister Slams Customs On Rice Smuggling

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BEVERLY HILLS, CA, March 27, (THEWILL) - The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr.

Akinwumi Adesina,Thursday blamed the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) for the increase in the importation and smuggling of rice into Nigeria, despite the increase in local production.

Speaking at a public hearing organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Customs and Excise, the minister explained that available data shows exports of rice to Nigeria stood at 2.

100 million metric tons per year, adding that only 25 percent of Nigeria's rice imports were recorded by the Nigerian Customs between 2009 and 2011.

"These rice were not imported into this country by heads or donkeys, they were imported using trucks, and trucks were not ghost, which means the Nigerian Customs need to do their job properly," he said.

The minister alleged that the Nigerian Customs deliberately underreported the magnitude of smuggling of rice into the country through the country's borders.

"Nigerian Custom data indicated that that an average of 341,000 of milled rice, 384,000 of rice of all types was imported into Nigeria from 2009 to 2011, while data obtained shows that the Nigerian imports in this period shows an average of 517,000metric tones per year," he said.

The minister said "local source claims that around 8,000 bags of rice are smuggled into the country everyday through the waterways between Nigeria and Benin, bringing the total to 400 tons per day equivalent to 146, 000 tons.

" According to him, there was an increase in rice production activities in the year 2012 wet season and dry season which resulted in 358 jobs produced in rural communities, while gross paddy produce was N149.

513 billion, and net value was N79.
691 billion.
In his welcome address, Chairman of the Customs and Excise Committee, Hon.

Sabo Mohammed Nakudu, lamented that "Nigeria has been branded complacent in abating smuggling of rice into the country as an unprecedented millions of tonnes of rice has been proven to enter the Nigerian market through smuggling.

' He added: 'But as we make efforts to combat smuggling physically; we must also utilise fiscal policies in tandem with physical enforcement to stamp out illegal importation of rice if we are to achieve the noble position of becoming a net exporter of this essential commodity.

" While declaring open the event, Speaker of the House, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, said over three million metric tons of rice was smuggled to Nigeria in 2013 through Benin Republic border which resulted into the lost of over N300billion revenue to the Federation Account.