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• Jonathan
Ahead of President Goodluck Jonathan's presentation of the 2012 Appropriation Bill to a joint sitting of the National Assembly, there are plans to reduce the country's debt profile from N6.02 trillion to N500 billion.

Director of the Budget Office, Dr. Bright Okogu said this at an interactive session with the Senate Committee on Finance just as the Comptroller General (CG) of Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) Alhaji Inde Dikko Abdulllahi alleged undue influence from some quarters on the operations of the service.

Okogu told the committee that government is worried about the rising domestic and foreign debt profile of the country and so, has devised an arrangement to reduce all the debts to about N500 billon in 2012.

'The issue of local debt is now causing a lot of concern. The programme we have will reduce it to about N500 billion,' he said.

The Senate Committee Local and Foreign Debts headed by Senator Ehigie Uzamere put Nigeria's debts at about N6.02 trillion.

In his submission to the Senator Bassey Otu-led committee, the Comptroller General expressed concern over activities of exporters whom he alleged have a scheme called Negotiable Duty Credit Certificate which allows the importers to collect some revenue amounting to aboutN50.3 billion.

'The amount realised from here goes back to the exporters. It is affecting our operations. It is not part of our collections for the government.' He equally complained about interference from some quarters in the course of operations of the Customs particularly in the area of seizures.'What we are seeing is pressure from left and right that this or that person is mine. We need the political will to help Nigerian Customs apply the full weight of the law'', he said.

The committee chairman assured the Comptroller General that the Senate would help remove impediments to smooth operation of their activities. Abdullahi also told the committee that with effect from next year, all activities of the NCS would be fully automated so that no importer would have reason to have physical contact with officers and men of the service.'By January next year, no importer will have direct contact with customs. Everything will be on the internet. We are going to have challenges but we are prepared,' he said.