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.