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Customs defaults may affect 2016 budget revenue target

The federal government’s plan to raise N4.2trillion ($14.3 billion) revenue set in the 2016 budget from its revenue agencies may not materialise, as the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has failed to meet the target set for it by the government.

Just like most other government agencies, findings revealed that collections are running behind target at the Nigeria Customs Service.

The NCS averaged N43billion per month in January to April this year, compared with N72billion targets in the 2016 budget.

Analysts believe a combination of squeezed private consumption and foreign exchange rationing is probably to blame and stressed however that Nigerians can expect some relief from the effective devaluation of the naira.

On its part, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) reported collection rates of about 90 per cent for Q2 2016 and 73 per cent for the first and second quarters combined.

Its chairman, Babatunde Fowler, while announcing the numbers, stated that the revenue agency hopes to hit its target over the full year.

It was unclear whether he was referring to the FIRS’s own target of N4.9 trillion set at the start of the year or the N4.2 trillion ($14.3 billion) in the 2016 budget.

“Either way, the FIRS has developed some positive momentum in identifying new taxpayers and collecting their dues. The FIRS is likely to outperform the other revenue collection agencies this year. The FGN is adamant that it will trim its capital expenditure plans rather than grow the projected deficit if, as we expect, it has to choose,” said analysts at FBN Quest.

However, a different impression was given last week by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir David Lawal who stated that collections overall this year were running at 50 per cent to 60 per cent of target.

It was reported last week that following the foreign exchange crisis in the country and the exclusion of 41 items from access to forex, the level of operational activities at the port locations in first quarter of 2016 dropped significantly when compared with the same period of 2015.

This was contained in the first quarter 2016 operational report released by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) revealed that though all cargo types declined during the period, container and general cargo traffic contributed significantly to the overall drop in cargo throughput.

Consequently, the NPA said there is urgent need to complement its investment in infrastructural renewal and automation of Nigerian port operations, by generating enough export cargo to make up for the shortfall of import cargo being witnessed in the ports.

The shortfall, it added, could be attributed to the reduction in government expenditure (a laudable and broad plan of the government to rebuild the economy), the exchange rate volatility as well as global economic crisis.

To address the problem, the NPA said it did an analysis of port capacity as a catalyst to economic development through export commodities.

The analysis, it stated, revealed that about 90per cent of container traffic left the shores of Nigeria empty.

This position was communicated to the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) by NPA management and highlighted the need to sensitize Nigerians on the need to fill the vacuum through export commodities, especially Mines and agro-allied products, “it stated.

Analysis of the report showed that in the first quarter of 2016, a total of 1,131 oceans going vessels and crude oil tankers with a total Gross Tonnage (GT) of 59,441,614 called at Nigerian Ports.

The report showed that Lagos Port Complex (LPC) recorded a gross tonnage of 8,195,979 showing a decrease of 11.5 per cent from 9,262,792 gross tons achieved in the first quarter of 2015. A total of 296 vessels were handled in the period.

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