Key rice distributors, importers and other relevant stakeholders in Nigeria have urged the Federal Government to quickly implement the 2013 benchmark of $190 per metric ton duty on imported rice.
The stakeholders under the aegis of Rice Millers, Importers and Distributors Association of Nigeria (RiMIDAN) said the nonâ€”implementation of the 2013 benchmark has made the country a dumping ground for smuggled rice from neighbouring countries.
The rice stakeholders noted regrettably that that USD570 remains the duty for rice in Nigeria despite international price crash and stiff competition from the Benin Republic.
â€œThough the Government reviewed the dutiable price on rice, the measure was yet to be implemented leading to dislocations and unease within the rice industry in Nigeria.â€
They argued that because of the non-implementation of the benchmark of $190 per metric ton duty on imported rice that Benin Republic deliberately crashed dutiable rate to USD200 per ton.
The action of Benin Republic has made the place a haven of sorts for smugglers of the product into Nigeria.
Mr. Tunji Owoeye, President of RiMIDAN, said apparent inaction of the federal government has made it impossible to improve the value chain on rice, less than 100,000 tonnes of rice were legally imported into Nigeria last year.
He said at a meeting last year with government officialsâ€œ we all agreed to introduce palliative duty and incentive in the sector to reduce smuggling of rice. Somewhere along the line someone is holding the entire nation to ransom.
â€œ We urged Mr. President, as a listening leader to intervene in the issue, quote me any where smuggling is not only affecting the farmer but it is rather killing them.â€ he said
Meanwhile, the body has resolved to alert government agencies and functionaries such as the Nigeria Custom Service, Special Fraud Unit of the Nigeria Police, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, among others, on those dealing with smuggled rice so that the law would take its course.
As part of the resolutions at a stakeholders meeting recently, the body promised to inform various bodies and relevant government agencies on the need for action as they agreed to continuously collaborate and work together towards sanitising the sector which they said has been taken over by unscrupulous people due to the inaction of the federal government on the agreed duty.
Mr. Tunji Owoeye, President of RiMIDAN, speaking with journalists at the end of the meeting disclosed that the Federal Government has assured that it would soon resolve every contentious issue in the rice business in order to boost economy and make those in the sector to survive.