Federal Govt to reduce tariff on importation of rice

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has disclosed that the Federal Government would embark on a downward review of tariff on importation of rice to reduce smuggling of the product into the country.
Okonjo-Iweala disclosed this while answering questions at the ‘Budget 2014 Jam’, on Tuesday in Abuja. Budget 2014 Jam is a youth online program where the Minister of Finance answers question from youths on issues bordering on 2014 budget. The three-day programme is organised by the Ministry of Finance in Collaboration with IBM technology.
She said that the 110 per cent increase on duty for importation of rice had encouraged smuggling of the goods into the country. “We increased the tariff to 110 per cent on the duty and yet it encouraged some people to go and grow and we grew 1.1 million metric tons of rice.
“ But it also encouraged smuggling by neighboring countries, they immediately drop their own to 10 per cent. The same with cars and we are watching it now to see what is the appropriate tariff, like rice now, we decided to bring it down because we see it is not working,’’ she said.
According to her, in 2014, government has decided to promote the auto mobile industry to ensure cars are manufactured in the country. She said government spent a lot of money on importation of cars  adding that government view was to encourage indigenous manufacturers.
“We have our own indigenous Innoson who has been manufacturing cars, first assembling, then gradually up to 50 per cent of his car parts are manufactured from scratch here in this country.
“And we say that if we can do this, why can’t we invite other people to manufacture cars here and sell. For that,  we are giving them some incentives to bring in some parts they will need free of duty. We are also increasing the tariff but that’s a very tricky area but we are watching it to see what is the appropriate tariff,’’ she said.
Okonjo-iweala called on Nigerians to be patient with government to undergo all the experiment to avoid the incident of smuggling witnessed with rice tariff . This, she said would help government to take the best decision and not to revise  its decision at any point.

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