There are indications that the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) may have deliberately kept quiet and have refused to make public its revenue target for 2023, owing to its failure to meet the revenue target of 2022.
Recall that the NCS had in January 2022 projected a revenue target of N4.1 trillion for itself, even though the Federal Government had set a target of N3.1 trillion for the service.
However, the Service could not meet either the federal government target or its own target. It recorded a shortfall of over N400 billion in the target given to it by the federal government, a development that the Customs Comptroller General (CCG) Col Hameed Ali (rtd) blamed on waivers, fiscal policies, insecurity among others.
Check by our correspondent revealed that the service has a tradition of disclosing its revenue target at the beginning of every year, a target they have always surpassed not until last year.
Stakeholders have however attributed the non-disclosure of its revenue target for 2023 to the failure of the service to meet the 2023 target.
For instance, the service in 2020 surpassed its revenue target of N1.3 trillion with over N2 billion. It collected N1,562,115,419,216.32.
Also in 2021, the service declared the sum of N2.24 trillion revenue for the year 2021, representing a 25 per cent increase from the N1.67 trillion target set for the year. The total sum generated also represents a 43.45 per cent increase from N1,562,115,419,216.32 generated in 2020.
But, in 2022, it failed to meet the target of N4.1 trillion projected for itself.
Some concerned stakeholders have observed that with less than few weeks to the end of first quarter of 2023, Customs is yet to make public its revenue projection for the year
In a chat with our correspondent, a freight forwarder and member of the National Council for Managing Directors of License Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Lucky Omorodion said the service may be playing safe owing to its failure to meet the 2022 revenue target.
He said, it could be that the service is just trying to play safe, you know they could not meet the projection for 2022 and news were flying all over that they had a shortfall of about N400 billion and you know it won’t look good if they make public, revenue target for 2023 and they still fail to meet the target, it will not sound good at all. I believe they are just trying to play safe by keeping quiet about it”.
Speaking also, the Chief Executive Officer, Center for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE) Dr. Muda Yusuf opined that the national election rigours may have caused the delay in the official communication of the service revenue target for the year, while informing that in the nation’s 2023 budget, there is a revenue expectation from all key revenue agencies of government which include the NCS.
Yusuf however said for an organization that is very well structured and committed to its mandate, the service doesn’t need the government to set targets for it, before doing what it is supposed to do.
He said: “In the 2023 budget, there is a revenue expectation from all key revenue agencies of government which include the NCS; if you check the 2023 revenue projection of the NCS you will see it there. So it is possible that NCS has not yet officially communicated, but in the budget, there is already a revenue expectation for NCS. So, if you ask me, they may not even need to wait for a circular, this is a routine thing that they do.
“So, for the NCS, I think there is already something for them to work on, but in terms of official communication; maybe the distraction that has been caused by the election may have delayed the official communication.
“Internally, I expect them to even have their own strategy section and even set their own target, which may even surpass what the government must have given them”, he said.
He however stated that Customs performance is too focused on revenue, stressing that the service should be doing a lot more than revenue generation.
“But I must emphasize that Customs performance is too focused on revenue, it should be doing a lot more in terms of trade of facilitation and the government is not setting any benchmark with trade facilitation responsibility of the service, that should also be measured because in the process of chasing this revenue target, sometimes they hurt investment and put a lot of burden on the resident community, so there should be a way to balance the revenue objectives with the trade facilitation objectives; which is very important going forward” he said.
On his part, the Deputy National President (Air and Logistics) of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) Dr. Segun Musa said the federal government does not need to make a pronouncement about the revenue target for the NCS explaining that the revenue target is an annual ritual of the service.
“Federal Government does not need to make a pronouncement about the revenue target of the NCS. It’s an annual ritual and I am sure they know what they are supposed to generate, the fact that it has not been pronounced does not mean they don’t have a projection in place.
“And again, it is not everybody that align with the revenue target of a thing. I have said it times without number that the major focus of the NCS is not revenue generation, but trade facilitation, so the revenue target is a stone age approach and it’s not what we should bother about”, he argued.
When contacted the acting National Public Relations Officer of NCS, Abdullahi Maiwada said the service is yet to receive the revenue target from the government, he said when the service does, it will make it public.
“When it comes to fiscal policie,s we don’t formulate, we only implement, if we receive that directive, definitely we are going to make it public”, he said.
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