EXPERTS LINK DOLLAR RISE TO BORDER CLOSURE, FALL IN REVENUE GENERATION

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FG Approves $3.1b For Automation Of Customs

By Yemi Akintomide

The current high exchange rate between Nigeria naira and United States of America (USA) dollar has been attributed to the continued closure of Nigerian borders with neighbouring Africa countries by the Federal Government.

It was reported that the country has lost over N24 billion on excise and duty fees payable at the continued land border closure in Ogun State alone within two years.

It could be recalled that Nigeria closed it land borders inAugust 2019, with neighbouring Benin, Cameroon, Chad, while all business activities and importations/ exportations of goods along these borders were halted.

To further worsening the situation, the Federal Government in November 2019, through the Nigeria Customs Service,(NCS), directed that petroleum products should not be supplied to fuel stations within 20km of the border towns.

This action further recked more damages on the Nation’s economy, as it death a devastitation blow on the naira and it purchasing power.

However, President Muhammadu Buhari on December 16, 2020, opened the land borders at Seme, Illela, Maigatari, and Mfun, while the Idiroko border in Ogun State remained closed.

Our correspondent’s investigation revealed that the continued closure in the state has dealt a huge blow on the revenue which FG generates from the import duties and seizures.

According to the Nigerian Customs Service (NSC), revenue generated at the Idiroko border alone before the closure of the land border, hit one billion naira mark monthly.two years ago, generated at least N1.0 billion monthly, but this has reduced drastically.

For instance, the NCS, Ogun Area Command, generated N3.3bn revenue in the first quarter of 2019.

The revenue showed a difference of N1.9bn in comparison to the fund raked in the first quarter of 2018.

Also in May 2019, the Ogun Area command of NCS generated N1.1billion revenue.
At a point when the land border closure was announced in August 2019, the NCS also unbundled its Ogun State Command, splitting it into two (Ogun Area 1 and Ogun Area 2).

While Ogun Area 1 oversees the regulation and enforcement of all import, export, and anti-smuggling-related activities in the state with its headquarters at Idiroko, while Area 2 focuses on the responsibilities of enforcing and regulating all Excise, Free Trade Zone, and Parcel Post related activities.

ijawnews.com gathered that the development has continued to affect the FG’s revenue, most especially the fund being generated through import, export, and anti-smuggling related activities in the state.

The command also generated N15.2m from the auction sales of seized petroleum products and scrap metals between January and June 2021.

Kolo admitted that borders in the state are still closed to customs operations, thereby limiting its revenue generation.

Last month, students in the state asked the Buhari-led Federal Government to reopen land borders in the state because it had “exceeded its relevance.”

“We urge the Federal Government to reconsider the closure of Ogun State land borders. The closure has exceeded its relevance and the negative effects are showing in the economy and living conditions of the good people of Ogun State,” Damilola Simeon, the Chairman of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), said: has led to companies’ collapse, joblessness.

Jare Oyesola, the President of Abeokuta Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ABEOKCCIMA), noted that the continued border closure has impacted negatively on the businesses “in Ogun border towns in particular and Ogun State in general.”

According to him, a number of companies have folded up, thereby increasing the unemployment rate in the state.

Oyesola particularly said the FG is equally losing huge revenue to the continued border closure in the state.

He said “By doing so they have ruined many of our Small and Medium Scale Enterprises and impoverished our people. Actually, we are dependent on the Republic of Benin for the market of the whole of West Africa. Unfortunately, people don’t realize that all this fall in the Naira is a result of this kind of decision made by the Federal government.
“Gradually, the Naira is being forced to be at par with the CEFA because of this decision of the Federal government but they are chasing the shadow by killing our people, making our exports impossible and therefore creating joblessness in Ogun State and Ogun Central in particular.

“I am not particularly happy about that policy, I have reported to our Senator and he took action and that was why one of the borders was opened but like you mentioned those that relate to us have not been opened; it is unfortunate. By closing the border they have reduced not only our own revenue but the Federal government’s revenue because all these borders that are closed are generating revenue. How could we have improved the naira when you close borders, you don’t want to do international trade and you want your currency to be strong.
“I don’t know what those who are in power are thinking but they are making business difficult for those who are manufacturing soap here.”

The Customs Public Relations Officer, Deputy Controller, Joseph Attah who initially picked our reporter’s call for inquiry on the continuous closure border and the impact on revenues however, dropped the call on our reporter and did not return or pick subsequent calls.

Attah neither responded to a subsequent text message sent to his line.

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