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No need to privatise Customs, others to fund 2021 budget

Published by The Nation on Sun, 10 Jan 2021


By Gbenga AderantiA member of the Senate representing Osun East Senatorial District, Senator Francis Fadahunsi, has disclosed that the federal government has the capacity to finance the 2021 budget, if all leakages draining the revenues of government are plugged.The federal parliamentarian advised President Muhammadu Buhari, to be decisively committed to the blockage of loopholes in the payments of customs excise duties, efficiency of the Federal Inland Revenue service and other sources to generate funds to drive the budget.President Buhari on Thursday, December 31, 2020 signed a total of N13.6 trillion as the 2021 appropriation law.Looking at the breakdown of the financial estimate, a total of N5.6 trillion was budgeted as recurrent Expenditure, N4.1 trillion as capital expenditure and N5.2 trillion as fiscal deficit.Addressing journalists in Ilase-Ijesha in Obokun local government area of Osun State, at the weekend, Senator Fadahunsi averred that the customs can generate over N4 trillion, if properly monitored.He disagreed with the erroneous impression that the countrys excise duties can soar when Customs is privatised, saying such would only become avenue for few people to plunder the revenues of the country.The Senator advised President Muhammadu Buhari to shelve his resolve directing Customs not to give license on food importation, saying the issues of banditry, kidnapping, flooding, insurgency and drought in some sections of the country had affected food production adversely.Let us start with customs excise duties. If our borders are well monitored and values of importation are declared accurately, the country can generate as much as N4 trillion in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic.Though, we have an ineffective and inept leadership at the Customs who didnt know up to 20 percent of what is happening there even when we have professional customs officer that can work and generate over N4 trillion.As a committee of the Senate superintending over Customs, we have done what we are supposed to do. They have now got the scanners that will help their operations. If there are good monitoring mechanisms and the duties are collected at transactional values, the Customs will generate above N3 trillion the federal government expected a private body to rake in.Fadahunsi described as misguided, the directive given by President Buhari that customs should cease from giving license on food importation, saying the President had been ill-advised.The flood in the North has reduced rice production. The war in Borno has reduced beans production. The banditry in Zamfara is also affecting food production. The kidnapping in Katsina has not allowed farmers to produce food in full capacities. Even, the farmers used to pay money in some states to bandits before they can farm.Drought has affected food production in the South, particularly in the Southwest. The rain stopped at the peak of production. Where is the food sufficiency now to warrant the directive that there shouldnt be food importation' I want to believe that those giving such advice to the President are enemies of this country, he said.He appealed to Buhari to monitor the activities of the Nigerian Ports Authorities and FIRS, banking on the amended finance and FIRS laws of the country.
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