The Senate ad hoc committee on Import Duty Waivers says that Stallion Group and Olam International are owing Nigerian government N44 billion resulting from the abuse of rice import waivers
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Nov 2, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT |
MESSRS Stallion Group and Olam International are owing the federal government N44 billion as a result of import duties waivers on the importation of 457,000 metric tonnes of rice into the country since May 2014. The Senate ad-hoc committee on Import Duty Waivers on Monday, October 19, stated this when the representatives of the two firms appeared before it to answer questions pertaining to the flagrant abuse of rice waivers’ policy in the country.
Senator Adamu Aliero, chairman of the committee, demanded full payment of the money owed by the foreign firms, insisting that Nigeria would not fold its hands and watch the huge debt swept under the carpet. He said, “There is no way the government will ignore this kind of money. We have to ensure that this money is collected and deposited into the Federation Account.”
Aliero also claimed that the companies’ imported rice into the country without paying waivers, off-loaded it into their warehouses and refused to pay the required duties, when asked by the Nigeria Customs Service. He noted with concern that while the Nigeria Customs Service confronted Stallion Group with payment demand notices, the firm opted to drag the NCS to court.
He also accused the company of exceeding the quota given to it to import 157,000 metric tonnes of rice with impunity by opting unilaterally to import 457,000 metric tonnes in excess of its required quota.
But the multinational companies have denied any wrongdoing in the current investigation by the Senate committee. Representatives of the two companies said they had fulfilled all remittances to the federal government.
The companies denied any abuse of the rice policy, arguing that they indeed paid the stipulated duty of 30 percent applicable to them. Stallion group specifically underlined the fact it had fully paid N17.15billion in duties and levies to its imports and therefore had not evaded any due to the government.
Olam, on the other hand, claimed that it has the largest rice farm in Africa and that it had been operating in Nigeria in the past 35 years, arguing that given its long period of business operation in Nigeria, the company would not consider short-changing the nation. It said it had filed a suit in the law courts for determination of the case.
Also, the Stallion Group submitted that the rice import by its companies were governed by the content and stipulations of the 2014-2017 fiscal policy measures on rice by the federal government, which were not duty waivers as misunderstood by in some quarters.
It said that rice production companies have applied to the country’s courts to determine if the additional retrospective duties meant for traders were payable by bonafide rice millers. Stallion stated that it had no choice but to approach the country’s judicial system for relief and fair judgment.
The company also assured the Senate Committee that the group would duly abide by the court’s final determination, adding that it was fully committed to the country’s quest for self-sufficiency in rice production.
Olam also contended that given its long period of business operation in Nigeria, the company would not consider short-changing the nation, and according to its representative, the company was seeking a legal determination on the matter in the law courts.