Unbelievable Fraud In Nigeria’s N117Billion Rice Import Quota Scheme - [MUST READ]

The fuel subsidy scam probably broke the ceiling in a room crammed with some of the worst corporate perfidy. Nothing could more sabotage the economic interest of a nation, many Nigerians thought.
But then came the rice import quota scheme, an unholy romance between politicians and businessmen, at the moment stretching corporate bad practices in Nigeria to an incredulous length.

About N117 Billion is there for the pick. A total of 26 companies are involved; two of which are owned by a former Attorney General of the Federation and a former civilian governor of Kebbi State respectively. Predictably, in the all-too-familiar Nigerian fashion, not all of the 26 companies selected for the scheme made the list on merit.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 2014 disclosed that Nigeria spent an average of N800 Billion annually on the importation of rice. Unofficial import receipts through the Cotonou corridor was not captured in the CBN figure.
But the business of importing rice, a staple in Africa’s most popular nation, is so huge and attractive that four neighboring countries of Benin, Togo, Cameroon and even landlocked Niger Republic have technically factored transshipment or smuggling of rice and allied commodities into Nigeria in their national economic plan.

A recent figure from the CBN indicated that Benin Republic imports almost as much rice as China and nearly as much frozen chicken as the UK. Most of the commodities are smuggled into Nigeria.
Disturbed by the nation’s huge import bill, the President Goodluck Jonathan administration in 2014 came up with a new rice policy to fast-track national self-sufficiency in rice production.
The policy specified that owners of existing rice mills and new investors with verifiable backward integration in the rice value chain will be allowed to import rice at10 per cent duty and 20 per cent levy (30 per cent); while merchants who have nothing to contribute to local production in the form of rice farms or mills will be charged 10 per cent duty and 60 per cent levy (70 per cent). Technically, it was a subsidy aimed at building local capacity in rice production.
Subsequently, an inter-ministerial committee was set up to work out the national rice supply gap and allocate import licenses with appropriate quotas in order to bridge this gap, same time advancing the objectives of the national rice policy.
On paper, this committee was to determine beneficiaries and allocate quotas based on four key criteria that assess investment of individual companies into local rice production.


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