by Akintomiwa Agbaje
The Federal government as moved ahead of the yuletide season to curb smuggling on the commodity and loss of revenue to the government. It is also considering to review downwards the 110 percent import duty and levy on imported rice .
At the beginning of the year, the government introduced the new tariff currently selling for N 9, 500 for a full bag and N 4, 800 for half bag depending on the brand.
Presidential Committee on Trade Malpractices’ Chairman, Alhaji Dahiru Ado-Kurawa, said that the government’s decision to review the tariff downwards was because the policy allowed the smuggling rice and loss of revenue to the government to the tune of N2 billion in the last one fiscal year.
The Citizen reports:
Ado-Kurawa said that “Benin Republic is one of the highest importers of parboiled rice this year. This is the country that ordinarily imports about 230,000 tons per annum. The two million tons parboiled rice imported from Benin was all smuggled to Nigeria.’
According to him, the stakeholders met recently in Abuja and part of the resolution was to advice the federal government to review the rice policy and sift out the grey areas where improvements could be made with a view to ensuring that the government’s quest to halt rice import was achieved.
According to him, the review is not a policy somersault but an approach to create a healthy mechanism for Nigeria to be self-sufficient in rice production and earn income from imported rice
The chairman disclosed that the government would also give incentive to rice millers into backward integration
According to him, government’s policy on rice has greatly deepened local production, which was geared towards attaining self-sufficiency in the product.
He noted that local milling capacity has increased to 200 percent and there has been an increment in production of about four million tons of local rice, thereby driving the production of paddy rice to an all-time high.
President, Millers, Importers and Distributors Association of Nigeria, Mr. Tunji Owoeye, commended the federal government for looking into the challenges facing the rice sub-sector.
He listed the challenges as smuggling of foreign rice brands through the Benin Republic border as well as incentives to rice farmers and processors.