By Kauthar Anumba-Khaleel, Abuja
The House of Representatives yesterday resolved to investigate the concessionary tariffs granted by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment for sugar importation into the country from 2013 to date as contained in the Backward Integration Policy.
The decision sequels a motion by Hon. Johnson Agbonayinma ,who recalled that in 2013, the federal government approved low concessionary tariff of 5 per cent duty and 70 per cent levy contained in the National Sugar policy.
Agbonayinma said that the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC) had revealed that some companies had flouted the terms and conditions for obtaining a three-year low tariff running into hundreds of billions of naira for sugar importation into the country.
He argued that the high tariff for importation of refined sugar was deliberately designed to discourage importation and encourage local production of sugar adding that the concession became necessary in order not to hike the local price of the commodity since the country was yet to achieve self-sufficiency in sugar production.
According to him, the government took the decision to approve the National Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) policy because of the importance of the commodity given that Nigeria, as at 2013, still depended on sugar importation to meet 90 per cent of local demand and in realisation that if sugar is to be imported at that high tariff, the cost will be excessively high.
“The concession was then given to three companies that had signed a commitment for Backward Integration Programme (BIP) with the Federal Government in which the money saved from the concession is to be invested in their farms to cater for sugar being sourced locally.
“This is with the target that by 2018, the companies will be able to produce 700,000 metric tons of sugar locally from those farms, create jobs for the teeming unemployed youths, diversify the economy from petroleum to agriculture, become a source of energy and evolve large scale savings of money for the country,’’he said.
The lawmaker further recalled that in Nov. 2015, the Executive Secretary of the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Dr Abdullatif Ademola Busari, revealed that some companies had flouted the concession terms, noting that the grant of low tariffs to those companies was for them to put the savings from the concession into the BIP agriculture farm sites.
While noting that it was a move that would help the country achieve self-sufficiency in sugar production for both domestic consumption and export, he however expressed concern that the companies had nothing to show for the grants in their farms over the three years they enjoyed concessionary low tariffs running into hundreds of billions of naira.
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