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Despite low export, bottlenecks, MMIA Customs earns N20.9 billion in 2022

By Wole Oyebade
20 January 2023   |   3:15 am
strong>•Stakeholders fault pressure on import duty, charges The Nigerian Customs Service (NSC), Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Command, Lagos, has raked in N20.9 billion revenue in 2022, despite perennial difficulties for exports and bureaucratic bottleneck at the airport. The earnings, about nine per cent increase on 2021 figures, mainly accrued from importation that currently accounts…

Nigerian Customs Service (NCS)

strong>•Stakeholders fault pressure on import duty, charges

The Nigerian Customs Service (NSC), Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Command, Lagos, has raked in N20.9 billion revenue in 2022, despite perennial difficulties for exports and bureaucratic bottleneck at the airport.

The earnings, about nine per cent increase on 2021 figures, mainly accrued from importation that currently accounts for about 83 per cent of air freights in the country.

Stakeholders said the Customs should not be proud of an increase in import-dependent revenue, when more could have been earned in an environment that promotes exports.

The Guardian recently reported that more airlines are departing from Nigeria without exportable goods, much to the pains of stakeholders and loss of foreign exchange earnings worth billions of dollars yearly.

Findings showed that besides mails that topped cargo net export in 2021, the country lately slumped in the export of agricultural produce following high rate of rejections and prohibitions overseas over poor packaging, documentation and alleged noncompliance with set standards.

Compared to the import-to-export ratio that was given as 66:34 in 2017, the 2021 ratio stood at 87:13, though movement of goods through the airports had increased by 56 per cent compared to 2020. 2022 figures are not any better, terminal sources confirmed yesterday.

Notwithstanding, Customs Area Controller, Mohammed Gidado, said it was a good year for the Command, collecting N19.05 billion out of estimated N20.9 billion earnings.

Gidado, in a statement, said the Command earned N1.85 billion more than 2021 “due to an improved integrity of passengers in the declaration of goods and high level of compliance towards voluntary payment of courier, parcels, passenger accompanied and unaccompanied baggage duties”.

Top agent at the cargo section said the increase in earnings was expected, though for questionable reasons. “There is a growing activity around the export terminal but import is the better for it. But instead of the authorities tackling the problems of extortion, multiple charges and other bureaucracies to unleash export potential, they are busy squeezing imports for revenue.

“But that is not the way to ease of doing business. Believe you me, if these various authorities harmonise activities and reduce export bottlenecks, even Customs will have over 200 per cent increase in earnings,” he said.

On multiple charges, for instance, there are still at least 16 sundry charges at Lagos Airport, lined up against every inquiry to export beans, fruits, pap, garri (cassava flour), and cashew nuts to Europe or America. Its Abuja counterpart has 15.

Official charges among the lots are five per cent Cargo Service Charge (CSC) that is statutorily collected by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA); Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria’s (FAAN) charge of N5 to N23/kg; Customs charges of N60 – N97/kg; ground handling charges of N45 to N90/kg (depending on produce or product) and freight charges accruable to the airlines.

Unofficial and non-receipted charges are: plant quarantine service fees for sanitary certification, put at N15,000 on average; association dues and FOU charges on the packaging, varying from N15,000 for car/van, N25,000 for bus/truck and N45,000 to N50,000 for a trailer full of cargo.

Former Commandant of the Lagos Airport in the 90s, Group Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd), added that the “revenue increase” is not commendable within today’s realities.

Ojikutu said: “In early 1990s, it was a battle to earn N400 million or $20 million. Today, over 30 years we are celebrating N20.89 billion or $29 million – just about $9 million difference in over 30 years. What an insignificant profit margin despite the increase in cargo at the airport!”