Nigeria loses billions in duty exemptions

Feb 10, 2001 01:00 AM

Details released by a government economic watchdog revealed that the Nigerian government lost 8.379 bn naira in duty exemptions granted by officials of the country's Customs Service between January and June 2000. (110 naira=$ 1).
According to the report by the National Economic Intelligence Committee (NEIC), 15 bn naira was still outstanding as "unmerited Value Added Tax (VAT) and withholding Tax" from both federal and State governments, Ministries and government agencies as of 30 June 2000.

The report, presented by NEIC Chairman Ibrahim Ayagi in Abuja, also noted that the 13.312 bn naira collected as special levies in 1999 from solid minerals and other internally-generated revenue and the 7 % special allocation from the federation account, were not highlighted in the 2001 budget. Other disclosures concern the Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MOFI), whose levies on total investment of 75.94 bn naira involving 68 companies were reportedly paid by only five companies.
Ayagi said the five companies paid 123.15 mm in 1998 while seven companies paid 6.854 bn naira in 1999, leaving an outstanding 23,872 bn naira yet to be remitted. In addition, the NEIC boss said 61 of the 86 companies in which MOFI had investments have never held their Annual General Meeting.
On Nigeria's vital oil sector, NEIC said $ 167.88 mm from crude oil and gas sales were yet to be paid into federal coffers, just as the 10.756 bn naira collected by the Federal Inland Revenue Services and Nigerian Customs were yet to be remitted to the Central Bank of Nigeria as at September 2000.
It also said that while the State-owned oil company, NNPC, had paid about 30 % of the contract cost for the rehabilitation of the Atlas Cove Jetty, a major re-distribution point for petroleum products located near Lagos, without any contract agreement, only 20 % of the work had been carried out.

The report warned that the jetty platform was hanging and could collapse anytime as the supporting iron pillars were badly corroded and eroded,and that there was no automatic loading arm on the jetty which also lacked functional fire fighting equipment.
A burst pipe at the jetty recently caused an inferno, resulting in the deaths of at least 15 local villagers scooping fuel from the scene. On the Aluminium Smelting Company of Nigeria (ALSCON), NEIC said the company's staffing system was biased in favour of expatriates doing jobs which Nigerians were qualified to do, and urged the government to redress the situation.
The government recently approved $ 150 mm to rejuvenate ALSCON. The Committee, which also said the windfall from oil revenue after the world oil price shot up last year, stood at $ 2.8167 bn, called on the federal government to use the proceeds to offset part of Nigeria's external debt, put at $ 28 bn. Oil accounts for about 90 % of Nigeria's foreign exchange earnings.

Source: Panafrican News Agency
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