‘N9.7b Rice Smuggled into Nigeria Monthly’

About 1.6 million bags of rice worth N9.7 bil-lion are smug-gled into the country monthly from Benin Republic, a group, Trans-Border Traders Association of Nigeria (TBTA), has said.

It appealed to the Federal Government to lift the ban on the importation of the commodity through land borders.

The National Co-ordinator of the association, Alhaji Mikky Okunola, said the ban has impacted negatively on investors and the government’s initiatives to encourage local rice production.

In 2011, the Federal Government, in its determination to block revenue loopholes, banned the importation of rice through land borders.

Okunola said if rice was allowed through the seaports only, it waould be available at reasonable prices. And no one would evade duties and levies.

He said genuine importers were required to pay duties and levies, which those engaged in smuggling evade. According to him, this makes smugglers to sell at market price and make excessive profit, or slightly below the market price to undercut honest importers.

He said the policy was aiding rice smuggling, urging the Federal Government to reverse it.

Okunola, however, praised the Seme Border Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NSC) on its efforts to curtail smuggling. He urged President Goodluck Jonathan to lift the ban on rice importation through land borders to reduce smuggling.

He said the raids carried out by Customs at Seme were in order, stating that it was the duty of the Customs to sanitise operations within its legitimate environment.


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