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Nigeria Customs Should Be Focused on Trade Facilitation, Not Revenue Generation: Deputy Budget Minister Agba

Nigeria’s Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mr. Clem Agba has said his ministry is presently in talks with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to change the agency’s

Nigeria’s Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mr. Clem Agba has said his ministry is presently in talks with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to change the agency’s mindset from seeing itself as a revenue generating agency, to focus on facilitation.
According to the minister, a shift in focus would expand Nigeria’s revenue base by attracting more businesses in the export sector in order to increase foreign exchange earnings, boost imports, trade and manufacturing.

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He also said the National Development Plan (NDP) which was recently passed identified some laws that needed to be changed in a bid to foster growth through the private sector.
Agba said ARISE Morning Show on Thursday.
Speaking on NDP and other measures taken by the federal government to increase revenue and the role customs play, he said: “And I am glad that the Federal Executive Council just approved the new NDP 2021 to 2025. And because we truly want it to be a national plan, not written by the federal government, not written by a consultant, not written by a political party, we had to ensure that all the 36 states were involved in the development of the plan.
“And because this economy is driven by the organised private sector, we had to get in the organised private sector to drive the development process itself and that’s where we brought in Mr. Atedo Peterside. As a  government what we’re doing is facilitated and provided the logistics for that plan.
“Revenue is it an issue? Of course, it is. Our revenue to GDP currently is seven per cent and the current plan that we have put in place, targets 15 per cent Revenue-to-GDP. We have the strategic revenue growth initiative currently going on. Like you can see that non-oil is beginning to produce more because we are building efficiencies into our collection systems. We are working with customs to change their mindset so that they know that they are not just the revenue collecting organisation, but that they are supposed to be facilitating trade and as they facilitate trade and make  business easy, then you find out more revenues will come in.”
He added the plan would be driven by the private sector.
“Currently, when you look at the nation’s GDP, 92 per cent  of it is the private sector. So, if they have to drive the economy, we have so much binding constraints that are dragging them back, it means that we’ll have a lot of revenue issues because if the MSMEs are able to operate well, if the  large companies able to operate well, freely, then we’ll get more taxes from Companies Income Tax (CIT) and that is why we had to involve the sub nationals because that’s where the rubber hits the road.”
The local governments were very much involved in all of this and they for the first time in the plan that we have put in place has got three volumes. The volume one being the plan itself, Volume Two, being the prioritise programs and projects that have been costed, so we have a knowledge of the financial requirements to deal with this. And then volume three is the legislative imperatives.
“We have identified about 18 laws that are needs to change in order to be able to catalyse growth through the organised private sector. We have looked at about 10 different policies that also need to be changed.”
Continuing, he said: “Of course, should we continue the subsidy? No, I wouldn’t support that. We lose about N3 trillion alone from petroleum as subsidy. There is a subsidy from exchange rate. And you find that there’s also subsidy in power. All of these are monies that can be put into more infrastructure, stimulate growth in the economy, create employment.
“The whole idea of the Finance Bills was to create more efficiencies and effectiveness in the system. It is to broaden the tax net not so much to begin to increase the taxes. And the whole is to improve on our revenues,” he added.
Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja and Nume Ekeghe in Lagos

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