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Confusion as Customs refutes delisting Rice from import prohibition list

Contrary to earlier news making the rounds that the authorities of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) has removed Rice imports from land borders from the import prohibition list, the agency this evening, Saturday October 8, 2016 refuted the news, saying the 41 prohibited items including rice are intact. The telephone interview was held at about 9.10PM today with our Editor.

The meaning of this development is that rice price may continue on its upward trend pending when local rice will saturate the market or is truly delisted from the list.

In an exclusive interview with the public relations Officer of Customs, Mr. Wale Adeniyi, he told Business Hilights that “The said news that Customs has delisted Rice from the import prohibition list is false and cannot stand because we never talked to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) or anybody other journalist on that in the last one week”.

“For record purposes, Nigerian Customs Service has never thought of delisting any of the 41 banned items. Rice is still on the list and will remain till the authorities found it necessary to remove it or other items for the interest of our economy.

“The said news making the rounds seems to be a news from an interview granted long before the prohibition of the 41 items periods before the prohibition order, and should therefore be countenanced forthwith by all Nigerians.

He said the NCS will continue on its role of swooping on smugglers of all delisted items until sanity is restored in the economy.

It would be recalled that several news agencies had between yesterday and today, Saturday, reported that respite is coming the way of Nigerians who had been decrying the galloping price of rice in the market as the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), had ordered the immediate removal of rice from import restriction list. Accordingly, he has re-introduced import duty payment at land borders.

Besides, a press release sent simultaneously to Business Hilights by Wale Adeniyi on behalf of the Comptroller General of Customs in the last few minutes said in parts: “Our attention has been drawn to publications on various online   platforms indicating that the Nigeria Customs Service has reversed the   ban on Rice importation through the land borders. These reports were   attributed to a press interview purportedly granted by the Service   Public Relations Officer, Deputy-Comptroller Wale Adeniyi.

“It has become necessary to re-state the true position in view of   the confusion which these online publications may create in the   industry. It is even more expedient to provide this clarification   given that the fact that the  Service has taken a firm position   earlier in the week through a joint press conference with Stakeholders.

“First, we like to reiterate the position that importation of Rice   remains banned through our Land Borders, and we have the commitment of   Partner Government Agencies and Stakeholders to enforce this   restriction. While this restriction is in force, Rice imports through   the Ports are still allowed subject to payment of extant charges.

“It is equally important to restate the confidence of the Nigeria   Customs Service in the ability of Nigerian Rice Producers to fill the   existing sufficiency gaps in the supply of the product. The Service   has noted with satisfaction the ongoing Rice Revolution undertaken by   many State Governments, and Strategic Interventions by Federal   Government Agencies. The Service is convinced that the bumper harvests   expected from these efforts will address the supply gap in 2017. It is   our belief that continuous waste of scarce forex on a commodity that   can be produced locally makes no economic sense, most especially at a   period of recession. The Service will therefore advocate a total Ban   on Rice Importation into Nigeria with effect from 2017.

“It is worrisome that the publications that resurfaced this weekend   were being attributed to a Press interview granted in October 2015. We   strongly suspect that some powerful forces behind Rice Smuggling are   at work, recycling an old report under a different circumstance to   create confusion. We urge Nigerians to watch out for similar antics as   the firm stand on Rice smuggling will pitch their selfish interest   against our national interest,” Adeniyi summed up.

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