Uche Usim, Abuja
Efforts to plug over N2 trillion annual revenue leakages and improve the revenue base of the country was crystallized on Thursday as the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed received the Full Business Case Certificate of Compliance (CoC) for the Import Duty Exemption Certificate (IDEC) project from the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC).
The non-implementation of the project, the Minister noted, caused a revenue loss of N2.5 trillion in 2017 and N2.1 trillion in 2018 to abuses and manual way of getting IDEC.
The CoC was presented to the Minister by the Director-General of ICRC, Engr Chidi Izuwah in Abuja.
While commending ICRC boss for expediting action on the project, Ahmed noted that the development has been her utmost desire and as such soothing to see it come to fruition.
While calling for the full implementation of the project, she noted that the Ministry will ultimately secure the approval of the Federal Executive Council before the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) of the project will take off in full blast.
She urged the Ministry to take full advantage of the IDEC portal and put it into full use to enable the Federal government get full value for its revenues, noting that the government has been experiencing a significant drain in revenues due to the inability to adequately control the IDEC processes.
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The Minister said, “The portal will help us control. It will help us to be able to track and monitor the IDEC that we issue, but also to monitor the performance of the companies that we give this IDEC to and we will also be able to interface the IDEC system with the Nigeria Customs Service.”
Earlier, in his remarks, the Director-General of ICRC, Engr Izuwah noted that IDEC project is a very laudable one, which is considered as great and urgent importance to enable the country cut the huge revenue loses to the tune of over N2 trillion due to manual processes.
He said: “the statement in the Minister’s letter that the non-implementation of this project caused a revenue loss of N2.5 trillion in 2017 and N2.1 trillion in 2018 is disturbing. We considered this a national revenue emergency and we gave it the needed attention and turned it around very quickly”.
Izuwah further noted that the Federal Ministry of Finance under Section 12 of the ICRC Act is required to diligently supervise this project and ensure that government realises full value, the interest of government protected and it reap the full benefits of the project.
He added that on the other hand, the ICRC under Section 10 of its act is required to collaborate with the Federal Ministry of Finance and regularly inspect the project and ensure compliance, that both the public and the private are doing what they have covenanted.
He also appealed to the Minister to help the Commission and the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA) finalise on its discussion concerning the Special Concession Account, which according to him will be a huge opportunity to increase the revenue that is available to the government and block leakages. The Minister in her response, promised to meet with the Permanent Secretary, Special Duties and the Accountant General of the Federation “to make sure that the account is not only put in place but put to full use”, he said.