Efforts by the Federal Government to realize money from revenue generating agencies such as Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) is being hampered by alleged high-level corruption, the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun has said.
Addressing members of the Senate Committee on Finance, Adeosun solicited the intervention of the National Assembly in curbing the loopholes and excessive leakage not only in the revenue sourcing agencies but also all other Federal Government’s agencies.
Led by its Chairman, John Owan Enoh, members of the committee were at the ministry as part of their oversight functions.
Members of the committee also criticized the Minister for her poor handling of agencies under her watch, resulting in alleged leakage and loopholes.
A member of the committee and Chairman of Customs, Senator Hope Uzodinma said: “There are a lot of drained pipes and leakages in the customs. I don’t think that the ministry under your watch has given sufficient attention to the customs in particular”.
Making reference to the Customs, Adeosun said: “We are working very closely with them. They have some challenges. The general contraption in the economy has really affected their level of inputs-forex scarcity and so on”.
She added: “They have some leakages which we are working with them to try and block. Largely, all their scanners are not working except the one in Idiroko.
“We have no working scanner in Nigeria, just one working for the whole country which means a lot of manual discretion in the assessment of Customs and of course, that brings in a lot of leakages.
“We are working with Sovereign Wealth Authority to invest, to bring back the scanners. But the scanners are in millions of dollars. Unfortunately, the one we had was given to a politician to maintain and he didn’t maintain them. We even even got in touch with the manufacturers but told that the person forced them to write it off.
“We are going to work with them to try to get this single window so that we can improve. We are the only country, even Ghana has a single window and when they implemented that, their Customs revenue went about sixty percent. So, we are trying to implement it in conjunction with the Sovereign Wealth Authority because we have to look for money, Customs doesn’t have money.
“Colonel Hameed Ali (rtd) is trying his best to try and instil some discipline but being an outsider in an insider’s place, is a difficult job.
“There was one transaction they blocked since February until I realized what their issue was and it took us less than ten minutes to unlock it. They are a very cohesive crook and very difficult to break but we’ll work more on that.”