THE Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), on Friday, insisted that there is no going back on the closure of borders against importation of illegal goods into Nigeria, pointing out that the interest of the country was holistically looked into before the decision was taken.
This was as the Service said the decision was a well-researched policy meant to encourage the growth of Nigerians, adding that a lot of employment opportunities would be created through the establishment of proposed 100 car terminals in the country.
The NCS Comptroller-General, Colonel Hameed Ali (rtd), who made this known in Abuja while fielding question from journalists in Abuja , however disclosed that the Service could only meet the N1.5 trillion target set by Federal Government as revenue for 2017 if the trading environment improved.
It will be recalled that the Senate had rejected the decision to close the Nigerian borders, lamenting that doing so would result to sending about 500, 000 Nigerians to the labour market.
However, the Comptroler General of Customs explained that the decision was taken because many importers were taking their goods to neighboring countries with a view not to the right duties.
“Anybody that moves his goods to our neighbouring countries, as ports of import, has no intention of paying in the right duties. Once Nigerians have moved their goods to Cotonou, either be it rice or commodities or cars, they have no intention of paying duties. First is to smuggle it.
“Let me give you an example: I will get the vehicles to Cotonou, pay the charges, because of their tax for transit; move it to Niger, pay the tax for transit to those countries and then move it to Nigeria and pay the exact duties.
“The reality is this, if any one of us had visited the car parks in Benin Republic, you will see the multiple value chain that grow within that industry and that’s what we want to transfer into Nigeria. We want to create 100 car terminals where car dealers will now import their cars and put them in those terminals. Customs officials will be there and they will escort the cars.
“If you want to establish 100 car terminals in Kano, you are welcome. We can license you and then you will move your cars from Lagos to Kano. Customs officers will be at that terminal and this will attract mechanics; it will attract spare parts sellers, food vendors and commercial banks will establish their branches for his or her financial transaction.
“So, when you have all these, in terms of employment, it is a great employment opportunity that will boost economy of this great nation”, he said.
Ali further clarified that even before the closure, a month notice would be given to importers who have vehicles at the borders to ensure that appropriate steps were taken, adding that any vehicle still at the border before the implementation of policy nationwide should be taken back to the sea ports or land borders for the legal process.
On the N1.5 trillion revenue target, he said the Service can only meet up if the trading environment, as well as nation’s economy and foreign exchange improved, adding that the target would be unattainable if the economic situation remained as it was in 2016.
“We hope and it is our prayer that the economy will improve and the trading volume will improve because we have no control over what is imported. It is only what it is imported that we collect duties on.