From Fred Itua, Abuja
Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (retd), yesterday, shunned a Senate public hearing on a Bill for an Act to Repeal the Customs and Excise Management Act Bill, 2016.
The public hearing was followed Senate’s move to repeal and re-enact a 58-year old law, to enhance Custom’s efficiency in the 21st Century.
The Customs DG did not send any representative to the hearing.
However, in his opening remark, Chairman of the Committee on Customs and Excise, Hope Uzodinma, said the National Assembly would amend Service’s Act to ensure the evolvement “of an effective, efficient and result-oriented department or agency.”
Senate President, Bukola Saraki who eclared the public hearing open, said the move to repeal the age-long bill was borne out of Senate’s desire to reposition the NCS with a view to ensuring that it “plays the pivotal role it is expected to play as a major funder of the federal budget.”
Saraki noted that introducing the bill became necessary, in view of “the very critical role that the Customs play in the economic and security life of our country” adding that “Customs remains one of the most important sources of government revenue.
“With government revenues dwindling rapidly at a time we have so much to do, this has further made the need for us to block all leakages and possible inefficiency points in our revenue profile an urgent national duty.
“When the eighth Senate came on board, we promised that we would introduce new laws to improve revenue generation, curb corruption, improve accountability and governance. This bill is one of those bills, which, even our private sector has identified as critically important to doing business and relates significantly to the cost of doing business in general.
“This bill clearly represents a clear message from the Senate that we are ready to empower our revenue agencies to perform their duty to ensure that our country’s economy continues to competitively perform even in the face of dwindling oil market prospects.
“We are determined and ready to retool our laws to achieve a more diversified Nigerian economy driven by innovative private sector and efficient government support. Customs operations will be key by injecting transparency and accountability in the revenue system.”