Posted by Mayowa Okekale, Abuja | 18 July 2017 | 926 times
Senate President Bukola Saraki has identified smuggling as a dreaded monster that must be tamed to diversify the economy.
He said that smuggling of goods into the country is the greatest threat to the realisation of the economic policies of the present administration.
Saraki spoke on Monday while declaring open a public hearing on tackling smuggling in the country, organised by the Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariffs at the National Assembly, Abuja.
Saraki however called on the Committee and all the stakeholders to come up with relevant recommendations on the way forward to save the nation's farmers, small scale industries and financial institutions from impending crisis.
He said: “My personal presence here this morning along with the leader of the Senate is to make a point of the importance that this Senate places on this subject matter.
“For me personally, it is my view that the singular greatest threat to our economy is this issue of smuggling. What is militating against the success of our government is this issue of smuggling.
“The singular greatest threat to the delivery of the promises made by President Muhammadu Buhari on the diversification of the economy is this issue of smuggling,” Saraki said.
“Today, the greatest threat to small holder farmers is smuggling. Today, rice farmers who have gone to take loans either from the CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria) or from commercial banks are being threatened by rice coming in from across the borders at highly subsidised rate.
“The meaning of that is that the imported rice will always be cheaper than those produced by our local farmers. A time will come, if we do not do anything, these farmers will not be able to pay their loans to the banks and this will result in serious crisis. The banks that have given loans to these farmers will also have crisis in their hands. And for the Central Bank that has intervened with billions of Naira again will not be able to recoup their money.
“The processors who have invested in rice mills at the beginning of this administration will also be threatened if we do not address the issue of rice smuggling.”
Saraki also stated that if smuggling was not stopped, the over $7billion invested by the government in the last 10 years to stimulate local production will go to waste.
Saraki further said: “There is no serious government that will render itself helpless because we must know the individuals who are doing this smuggling. We must be able to know who they are. Is it that they are larger and bigger than government?
“Is it that we cannot stop them? Or is it that we don't want to stop them? Or is that we lack the competence to stop them? These are the questions that we put before us today. We must stop them. Customs must do what it takes to stop smuggling. These are the largest economic saboteurs that are ruining our economy. We must be able to identify them. They must be made to realise that we are serious about this issue.
“We must be able to sanction officers who are responsible for this and we must be able to reward officers who prevent smuggling. We want this Committee to sit down for the length of days of public hearing and ask ourselves what is the way forward. I can assure you that our responsibility as a Senate is to ensure that whatever recommendations are made by this Committee, we have to send them back to the Executive.”
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