Senate passes N238.15bn budget for Customs in 2020

President of Senate, Ahmed Lawan

…As Lawan warns MDAs to submit audited accounts or risk punitive measures from N’Assembly

The Senate on Tuesday approved the sum of Two hundred and thirty-eight billion, One hundred and forty-nine million, Three hundred and Twenty-five thousand, Eight hundred and thirty-two Naira Seventy kobo (N238,149,325,832.70) for the Nigeria Customs Service for the 2020 financial year.

The approval came following presentation and consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff.

Chairman of the Committee, Senator Francis Alimikhena (APC, Edo North), in his presentation said out of the total expenditure for the year 2020, N98.61 billion representing 41.41 percent is for Personnel cost; N15.95 billion representing 6.70 percent is for Overhead Cost; and N123.59 billion representing 51.89 percent is for Capital Cost.

According to the lawmaker, the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) has a revenue framework of N1.5 trillion to be remitted to the Federation account; and N178.7 billion to Non-Federation account for the 2020 fiscal year.

He further disclosed that the NCS in 2020 will undertake the recruitment of three thousand two hundred (3,200) officers and men, as well as implement the Customs Service Salary structure for 15,892 officers and men of the Service.

Lawmakers who spoke in support of the adoption and passage of the committee’s report include: Senators Jibrin Barau (APC, Kano North); Ibikunle Amosun (APC, Ogun Central); Bassey Akpan (PDP, Akwa-Ibom North West); Sabi Aliyu Abdullahi (APC, Niger North); and Yamaha Abdullahi (APC, Kebbi North).

Other Senators, however, kicked against the Seven percent Cost of Collection (N112,424,425,326) due to the Nigeria Customs Service from the federation account, one which they argued was not justified, particularly because the service is a revenue generating agency.

The lawmakers who kicked against the seven percent collection by the service from the federation account are: Senators Olamilekan Solomon Adeola (APC, Lagos West); James Manager (PDP, Delta South); Bala Ibn Na’Allah (APC, Kebbi South); and Gabriel Suswam (PDP, Benue North East).

Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, while objecting to some items in the 2020 budget for the NCS as contained of the committee’s report, queried the allocation of over one hundred and twenty million naira for the purchase of television units.

However, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, in his concluding remarks, commended the Customs Service for beating its revenue target in 2019.

He maintained that the Seven percent collection from the Federation account due the agency is an incentive intended to motivate the revenue generating agency to live up to the expectations of its responsibility.

“This Customs Service is a revenue generating agency, last year the report says they performed so well and even collected above the target, this is what we want.

“So, if there’s anything we would be doing is to encourage our revenue generating agencies to perform. We should be giving them incentives even when there’s none actually, so that we are able to get more and more resources.

“I believe that from those of our colleagues who have served in the Customs know there’s improvement in the customs service today.”

While charging committees of the Senate to properly oversight relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government, Lawan advised the Committees to get an understanding as to why their annual budgets make provision for certain items in dispute.

“I think what is crucial is for us to be up-to-date and prompt with our oversight. All those expenditures that are expected to be done, we should be able to understand how and when they are done.”

Lawan warned Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government that over the years have failed to submit audited reports of their annual expenditure to comply before the end of the first quarter of 2021, or risk facing drastic action by the National Assembly during appropriation.

“The Second aspect is the audited accounts. It is a sad commentary that the agencies of government have not been submitting their audited accounts. This is unacceptable, and I think we need to take drastic action here.

“This is a new dawn. We have passed the budget last year, the operation or implementation of the budget has started, and we expect every MDA to present their audited accounts before the end of the year, especially towards the end of December, or at least the first quarter of next year.

“If any agency refuses or fails, without any cogent reason, we have every reason to take a drastic action when it comes to appropriation, because not to account for what you’re given the previous year is to say that you’re not prepared to take a new budget.

“So, I’m advising the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), especially those that are not up-to-date with their audited accounts to do so, because we could decided as a National Assembly, to take punitive measures against agencies of government that are not up-to-date with their audited accounts,” the Senate President said.

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