According to reports, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) is advocating a total ban on rice imports with effect from 2017 to encourage local producers, says the Service Public Relations Officer, Mr. Wale Adeniyi.
This is contained in a statement signed by Adeniyi, on Sunday in Abuja.
He said that the service was disturbed by various reports indicating that customs had reversed the ban on rice importation through the land borders.
Adeniyi said that the reports were attributed to a press interview purportedly granted by the service PRO, Deputy-Comptroller, Wale Adeniyi.
He said that the reports that resurfaced this weekend were being attributed to a press interview granted in October 2015.
Adeniyi said that the service strongly suspected that some powerful forces behind rice smuggling were at work, recycling old report under a different circumstance to create confusion.
According to him, “It is necessary to restate the true position in view of the confusion which these publications may create in the industry.
“It is even more expedient to provide this clarification, given that the service has taken a firm position earlier in the week through a joint news conference with stakeholders.
“We like to reiterate the position that importation of rice remains banned through our land borders and we have the commitment of partner government agencies and stakeholders to enforce this restriction.
”While this restriction is in force, rice imports through the ports are still allowed, subject to payment of extant charges.
“The service will therefore advocate a total ban on rice importation into Nigeria with effect from 2017.
”It is our belief that continuous waste of scarce forex on a commodity that can be produced locally makes no economic sense, most especially at a period of recession,” Adeniyi said.
He said that it was important to restate the confidence that customs had in the ability of Nigerian Rice Producers (NRP) to fill the existing sufficiency gaps in the supply of the product.
Adeniyi said that customs had noted the ongoing rice revolution undertaken by many state governments and strategic interventions by Federal Government agencies.
According to him, “the service is convinced that the bumper harvests expected from these efforts will address the supply gap in 2017.
“We urge Nigerians to watch out for similar antics as the firm stand on rice smuggling will pitch their selfish interest against our national interest.”