Coronavirus: N2trn Customs revenue target in jeopardy

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Agencies in Nigeria’s maritime sector are jittery over possible drop in their yearly revenue due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus.

The deadly Coronavirus, which has crippled business activities in China and killed thousands of people worldwide is likely to have negative effect on the Nigeria Customs Service’s N2 trillion 2020 revenue target.

Other government revenue generating agencies would also not be spared.

Sources at the Lagos ports said the level of imports arriving Nigerian port had  dipped significantly, as 60 per cent importation into Nigerian ports are from China, even as several vessels and thousands of Nigerian-bound cargoes have been trapped in China.

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However, Benin Republic has shut its border as a result of more cases of Coronavirus recorded in Nigeria, a development which has left many travelers stranded at the Seme border.

An importer, Geff Okereke, said the few vessels that were still calling on the nation’s seaports were the ones that have left before the outbreak of the virus, saying in the next two months, cargo traffic at the ports will disappear completely.

He said over $300 million worth of electronics, hardware goods belonging to some Nigerians at Alaba market and computer village were trapped in China.

“Currently, vessels with laden goods do not come regularly to Nigerian ports due to the Coronavirus outbreak in China. There is presently drastic reduction in movement of cargoes into Nigerian ports.

“Given the decline in the volume of import and export cargoes, there would be corresponding drop in government revenue as Federal Government agencies such as Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and other agencies that generate revenue from authorising these cargoes, would also lose out significantly.”

National President, Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Lucky Amiwero, said the situation would have serious impact on the nation’s ports revenue.

He said in the next two months, there is going to be a drastic drop in revenue. He advised the Nigeria Customs and other government generating revenue agencies to stop looking at revenue for now and focus on security and how people can be safe in view of what is happening globally.

“When you see countries closing and shutting down, you must understand what is happening. It means nobody can go into that country and most of those countries are countries that actually have their import.

“Fifty or 60 per cent import come through China to Nigeria. As at now, that means nobody can go into China. We have consignments coming from Italy and many other countries and many of these countries have lockdown which means nobody can access them for now.”

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He said the countries were trying to see how they can quarantine their system for their countries to be safe from epidemic.

“A country like Italy is closing down and America is trying to close its border. Even Benin Republic shut their border and people travelling from Nigeria are stranded  and many other countries have closed down.

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“No country is talking about revenue today but security. Customs should forget about revenue for now. I’m surprised that they are still using an old system. It is 1947 old system. There is no seminar you go today, they will talk about revenue, what they talk about is security. I think Customs should try to modernise. If your country is not secured, your revenue is useless.”

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