The present economic recession is most profound in the soaring price of the staple, spawning the hashtag #MinimumWageCan’tBuyABagOfRice as Nigerians grapple with a price increase of over 100 per cent following a complete ban on importation.
However, with an increased rate of smuggling of the product, the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), decided to intervene by ordering the immediate removal of rice from the import restriction list and the re-introduction of import duty payment at land borders.
This was made known by the Public Relations Officer of customs, Mr Wale Adeniyi, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja during the week.
He however maintained that all rice imports through land borders would attract the prevailing import duty of 10 per cent with 60 per cent levy, while rice millers (preferential levy) with valid quota allocation would also attract duty rate of 10 per cent with 20 per cent levy on rice importation.
“Over the years importation has been restricted to the seaports because border authorities have found it difficult to effectively monitor and control importation of rice.
“When the decision to ban it (rice) was taken it was not an effective measure because smuggling of the product thrives with people using different means of conveyance including small trucks, bicycles and even animals – putting them on donkeys and some actually carry it on their heads.
“These new measures will be for customs to reognise their anti-smuggling operations in the border areas and ensure that all those importers through the borders bring their rice through approved routes and pay their extant duty.
This is a laudable move by the Customs boss and it has the potential to go a long way in crashing the price of the product and ease the burden on families.