Following its negative impact on local industries, House of Representatives has moved to curb the excess rice importation into the country by some importers.
Nigerian Pilot recalls that on February 26, 2015, the House passed a resolution to investigate the alleged abuses, fraud and evasion of import duty payment on imported rice by some companies and other investors.
At a stakeholders’ meeting yesterday organised in Abuja by the House Ad-hoc Committee on Rice Imports Quota and Duty Payments, Chairman of the committee, Hon Leo Ogor, accused Olam Nigeria Limited and Eboni Agro Industry of importing rice in excess of their allotted quota.
Ogor lamented that from their presentations, Olam Farm was owing the federal government import duty in excess of N3 billion while Eboni Agro Industry imported 25,000 metric tons of rice instead of its allotted quota of 15, 000 metric tons.
The chairman reiterated that the House would do everything possible to save the local industries from these reckless importations which are killing local production.
He, therefore, directed the Olam Nigeria Limited to furnish the committee with the rice it had imported in the last two years, adding that the committee would look at the transaction in relation with the approval by the federal government.
“We will do everything to save the local industries. I don’t believe in flooding the market with finished products. This is why the Minister of Finance has to be here. We will neither discourage local industries nor the importers.
“From what I have seen, Olam policy does not support local industries because they are in the habit of importing finished product. We will look at your policies so that it does not create problem for our local industries,” Ogor stated.
In his presentation, Head of Business, Olam Nigeria Limited, Anil Nair, admitted that they had involved in the importation of rice in excess before the new government policy on rice importation came out in July 2014.
Nair told the committee that in July 2014, its qota for rice importation was 246, 000 metric tons.
The representative of the Comptroller-General of Customs, Deputy Controller-General of Customs, Adewuyi Akinlade, said that they had been having a running battle with some of the rice importers.
Akinlade hinted that Customs was even sued because of the import duties.
He informed the committee that the 10 per cent rate and 20 per cent levy policy came into existence in July 2014.
The official of Flour Mill, Mr. Olesugun Falade, said the company has over 10, 000 hectares of land in Niger state.
Falade informed the committee that they were gradually graduating from importing to producing rice locally, adding that in 2013, they did not import any rice due to high tariffs.
In his presentations, the representative of Eboni Agro Industry, Andy Ekwerem, said the importation of finished product was affecting some of them producing locally.
Ekwerem lamented that out of the 21, 000 metric tons of brown rice they had imported, they had only managed to sell 3000 tons because of the large quantity of finished product in the market.
Earlier in his keynote address, the Speaker of the House, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal explained that federal government of Nigeria 2014-2017 fiscal policy measures on rice was set out to deliver certain laudable objectives, one of which was encouraging domestic rice production.
Tambuwal, who was represented by Hon Leo Ogor, however, allay fears that the investigative hearing was a witch hunting exercise.
The inter-ministerial committee on Rice Importation comprising the Ministries of Finance and Agriculture did not attend the hearing.

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