Senate Questions Customs N2b Budget For Welfare, N180m For Cleaning

Senate

Senators on Thursday questioned allocations in Customs 2021, a vote of N2 billion for retirement incentives and N180 million for cleaning.

The Senate on Wednesday approved N257 billion budget of the Nigerian Customs Service for the 2021 fiscal year.

This followed presentation of Nigeria Customs Service 2021 budget report by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariffs, Francis Alimikhena (Edo North).

Out of the approved sum, N99.7 billion was voted for personnel cost, N19.5 billion for overhead, and N137.9 billion was approved for capital cost.

In 2021 fiscal year, Customs revenue target was pegged at N1.67 trillion comprising N1.5 trillion for Federation Account and N178 Billion for Non-Federation Account.

Budget details

Details of the budget showed that N2 billion was set aside for retirement incentives for Customs operatives; 3 billion for local travel and transport.

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Customs will spend N200 million to maintain its aircraft and N100 million to  fuel it.

Internet access charges got N100 million; maintenance of vehicles got N250 million; while N400 million will be spent to fuel the vehicles — this is aside the N5 billion already earmarked for motor vehicle advances.

Maintenance of generators will gulp N200 million and fueling, N400 million; while N250 million for other maintenance services

N500 million is voted for legal services; cleaning and fumigation N180 million; refreshment and meals, N90 million.

Customs will spend 1.57 billion for recruitment and appointments; and N1.2 billion for local training.

Under capital expenditure, Nigerian Customs Service voted N1.6 billion for borehole and other water facilities; N15.9 billion for motor vehicles; N87 million for photocopiers and N81 million for shredding machines.

Before the budget was passed, some Senators picked holes in the fiscal document especially regarding the expenditure.

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Senators react

Senator Sam Egwu (PDP, Ebonyi) queried why the agency is spending N2 billion as welfare packages for retiring officers, while they have retirement benefits.

Called to explain, the Chairman of the Committee, Alimikhena said that the money was not meant for one person but for all the officers of the Nigerian Customs.

Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, who also raised the issue of N180 million for cleaning and fumigation, asked what the NCS is cleaning and fumigating to have budgeted such a huge sum.

Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (Niger) expressed concern that Customs is spending huge sum on non-essential items  while officers are being attacked at the borders.

Reacting to this budget presentation and consideration, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, who presided over the plenary, berated the Committee Chairman for failing in his oversight function.

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He urged the committee to upscale it oversight of the agency and ensure that the budget is implemented within the fiscal year.

He said: “Chairman, I think you need to upscale your oversight on the Customs, because this narratives that they will keep money they will not do budget implementation is as a result of insufficient oversight.

“We need to know this kind of things in good time, that you report back to the Senate on what is happening and you also advise them on what is appropriate and legal as far as the implementation of the budget is concerned. We are not supposed to be hearing this now, so increase your oversight.”

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