The members on the Senate Committee on Customs disagreed on the ability of the Nigeria Customs Service to realise its revenue target despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Vice-Chairman of the Senate Committee on Customs, Francis Fadahunsi, stated that the agency would be able to realise its initial revenue target of N1.6tn as contained in the 2020 national budget.
His position is contrary to that of a member of the Senate Committee, Senator Adamu Aliero, who had expressed doubts over the possibility of the Customs to meet the N957bn revenue target because of the dwindling oil revenue.
The National Assembly had following the outbreak of the COVID -19 in May, reviewed the target of the agency to N957bn.
The NCS Deputy Comptroller General, in charge of human resources, Sanusi Umar, had told members of the Senate panel on Thursday that despite the impact of COVID -19, the agency realised N573bn out of the reviewed target between January and May this year.
But Fadahunsi, in an interview said the agency could surpass the reviewed revenue target and aim at realising the N1.6tn budgeted for it in the initial 2020 budget before COVID-19.
He argued that with deliberate and determined efforts, the agency could surpass the revenue target by blocking leakages and exploring new ways of generating revenues from other ports apart from Lagos.
Fadahunsi said, “Like I said at the meeting between our committee and the NCS on Thursday, I want to disagree with my senior colleague (Aliero), who said the target was not realisable.
“This is because there was a complete economic lockdown within the period the NCS realised the N573bn. Target is a lazy way of collecting revenue because the moment you surpass it, you will remain docile.
“What you need to do is to block a lot of revenue leakages. Most of the goods that are being brought in are not on letters of credit. There is no way the Federal Government could sustain the idea of funding budgets with borrowed money every year.
“The NCS is focusing on the Lagos ports to generate all the revenues whereas there are ports in Port Harcourt, Warri and Calabar where the importers have abandoned because of the poor state of the roads in the areas.”