IKEJA: In a renewed drive to shore up its revenue base, the Nigeria Customs Service has targeted the enforcement of excise duty payments.
The Coordinator, Zone A, NCS, Eporwei Edike, made the call during a visit to the NIPOST office at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja.
He was accompanied by the Customs Area Controller of the MMA, Allanah Frank. Edike called for the reconciliation of the duties remitted by NIPOST and the returns collected by the Customs, after being informed that NIPOST had remitted all duties collected directly into the Federal Government’s account.
He said, “The duties remitted by NIPOST into the Federal Government Account must tally with the returns you have. A comprehensive report must be forwarded to your controller.” Officers had earlier been assigned by the Customs NIPOST office to go round the NIPOST offices within Lagos and collect returns.
Edike inspected the basement of the international wing of the Lagos airport to ensure officers perform their duties in a professional manner.
The zonal coordinator also embarked on the inspection of factories in Lagos.
He enquired about the level of compliance among factories in the payment of excise duties.
Some of the factory owners said the difficulty in accessing foreign exchange, high interest rate, and the unfriendly business environment affected their ability to pay excise duties.
Edike, however, urged them to comply with the law and insisted that all outstanding payments must be paid in full.
He said, “Until we are directed otherwise, we have a duty to implement policies meant for national development. Everybody is going through a tough time. Government too is not finding it easy.
“Imports through the sea ports are not as they use to be, which is why we are visiting the factories to know if they have complied with the law on excise duty. It is in the interest of citizens, our collective national interest that they comply and that is what we are out to enforce.”
While many of the factories visited showed signs of efforts at compliance with industrial standards and acceptable hygienic conditions, some were a far cry from the minimum.
At such sites, Edike directed the Customs Area Controller of Lagos Industrial Command, Mrs. Aremu Adeyanju, to invite the Standards Organisation of Nigeria and the National Agency for Foods and Drugs Administration and Control to visit the factories for inspection and re-certification.
He said, “The Nigeria Customs Service is not taking interest in closing factories; we are doing all we can to support their business. If after our efforts, they still fail to do what is expected, nobody can blame the Customs for whatever happens.
“We are partners in national development and economic growth but that does not mean government will forfeit its badly needed revenue. Do not hesitate to contact us any time you have any matter to discuss. We will listen and resolve whatever issue that comes up.”