Senate says its has retrieved over N140 billion unremitted Customs funds

According to the Senate Joint Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariffs; and Marine Transport, it had recovered over N140 billion of un-remitted Customs in its N30 trillion alleged loss in the country’s Customs agency. It mentioned this in an interim report submitted on Wednesday.

The committee, inaugurated to investigate the operations of the Nigeria Customs Service Revenue Drive, which in the Senate’s opinion was grossly inadequate, explained that banks had remitted N128 billion of these funds to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) while some of the 60 companies investigated made voluntary payments of N12bn into Federal Government’s coffers.

“As a result of this exercise, some collection banks have made additional remittances to the Central Bank of Nigeria to the tune of N128bn and evidence of payment and receipt has been received by the committee. From the selected 60 companies, over N12bn payments have been made to the government voluntarily by the companies based on their internal self-audit after receiving documented evidence of their culpability from our committee.” the panel said in its report.

These funds, the panel is not exhaustive as they believe that if given more time, they would recover an even greater as none of the companies or banks had fully cleared themselves despite the amounts recovered. The panel reiterated that the 32 “leakage channels” it identified as the “major sources of revenue losses” in the import and export business could still fetch more recoveries. “It is instructive to note that despite all the payments so far made, none of the approved collection banks or the selected companies has fully cleared the established liabilities against them” the panel explained as it requested for an additional 8 weeks to finalize its work.

The overall effect of the wrong reports given by the Customs Service on the country’s economic profile, forex reserves and hence the CBN’s policies were cited as reasons why the situation must be tackled seriously.

“These infractions within the system disproportionately distort the economic profile of the country and place extensive pressure on the nation’s scarce foreign exchange. It also negates all Central Bank of Nigeria initiated foreign exchange management plans. This is because a distorted forex requirement does not essentially reflect the actual forex needs of individuals and businesses in the country. This situation benefits only the purveyors of capital flight from the country and adds absolutely no value to the nation.”