The Minister of Finance, Kemi Oduesin, and the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hamed Ali (rtd) engaged in a hot argument over what the CG described as the poor remuneration for Customs officials.
Speaking when he appeared before the Senate committee on Finance said the federal government must come up with an enhanced remuneration for his officers to avoid them from being compromised, stressing that the work and risk officers of customs are exposed to, is not commiserate with their take home.
The Customs boss, who asked for more money for his personnel in the 2016 budget, lamented that one of the major challenges in meeting the target of Customs both in the past and present is the practice where international business owners of some big private firms are granted unnecessary tax waivers.
Ali said, “We have a target of N917. 3 billion for this year which we would work hard to meet, but we have also identified some challenges in trying to achieve this target, but in a situation where so much money is lost due to waivers and concessions – it is a major problem.
“We discovered that most of the people who now get big time waivers are big time business people who should pay people; it gives us the problem of meeting our targets”, he declared.
But the minister of finance faulted the Customs boss on remuneration for his personnel. She told the Senator John Enoh-led committee on Finance that the benchmarks and other sources of generating revenue to fund the 2016 budget were realistic and based on micro economic projections, adding that the GDP will also jump to 4.2 per cent.
The minister however expressed concern over the lack of compliance of payment of taxes and other levies by Nigerians to the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, stating that some companies had not paid their taxes for over nine years.
She explained that as an import economy with over 70 per cent importation, Nigeria needs to impose a tax regime which would be executed by Customs.
She also maintained that for customs to achieve all of that, “there must be alignment of interests where compensation of Customs officers would be taken care of, so that goals would be achieved.”