The Senate Ad-Hoc Committee on Waivers has recorded a major breakthrough in its anti-corruption crusade as it uncovered many ways in which the waivers policy was being used to defraud the country of billions of naira.
It was discovered that importers and relevant government agencies were involved in the deal that otherwise would have been a source of revenue to the Federation Account.
The committee was set up in July to carry out holistic review of the policy with a view to determining revenue losses incurred by the government.
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Adamu Aliero, told journalists on Friday in Abuja that the outcome of the committee’s sitting would be made public during the public hearing and presentation of the final report to the Senate.
He said, “We have sent invitations to Ministries, Departments and Agencies like the Federal Ministry of Finance, Central Bank of Nigeria and of course, the Nigerian Customs Service, to give us relevant information that will help us to carry out the assignment given us very effectively and in fact, unearth the rot which waivers have caused in the system.
“We are happy with the responses we have got so far from the MDAs. What we are doing now is to start compiling the reports and make our recommendations after which a public hearing will be held where the abuse of the policy either by importers or relevant government agencies will be made public to Nigerians.”
According to him, the committee will be meeting again next Tuesday to take final decisions on how to go about the public hearing.
Saturday PUNCH recalled that the Senate had on the strength of a motion by Senator Rafiu Ibrahim (APC Kwara Central) in July, set up the committee to, among others, look into the policy regime and simultaneously carry out its holistic review with a view to determining government revenues lost to waivers scheme.
The Senator had alleged that Nigeria lost N585bn between 2011 and 2014 to waivers on rice and other food items.
The committee looked into all issues relating to waivers, concessions and grants with a view to determining full government revenues in relation to the policy.
The Senator in the motion entitled: “Indiscriminate use and abuse of waivers for rice importation and others” alleged that the flagrant abuse of waiver had eroded the rice production policy of the Federal Government by allowing importation of huge quantities of the commodity in excess of its approved quota.