Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has identified smuggling of goods into the country as the greatest threat to the realisation of the economic policies of the present administration.
Saraki stated this on Monday while declaring open a public hearing on tackling smuggling in the country organised by the Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariffs at the National Assembly, Abuja.
According to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sanni Onogu, Saraki insisted that unless the monster of smuggling is tamed, efforts being made to diversify the economy from oil would not yield expected results.
“My personal presence here this morning along with the leader of the Senate is to make a point of the importance that this senate places on this subject matter,” Saraki said.
“For me personally, it is my view that the singular greatest threat to our economy is this issue of smuggling. What is militating against the success of our government is this issue of smuggling.”
He added that the greatest threat to the delivery of the promises made by President Muhammadu Buhari on the diversification of the economy is the issue of smuggling.
“The level of smuggling that we are seeing cannot continue because they will definitely rubbish all the policies of government if allowed to go on. I am saying that with all sincerity and all level of responsibility and I tell you why. Today, the greatest threat to small holder farmers is smuggling,” he said.
According to him, rice farmers who have gone to take loans either from the (CBN) Central Bank of Nigeria or from commercial banks are being threatened by rice coming in from across the borders at highly subsidised rate.
“The meaning of that is that the imported rice will always be cheaper than those produced by our local farmers. A time will come, if we do not do anything, that these farmers will not be able to pay their loans to the banks and this will result in serious crisis. The banks that have given loans to these farmers, will also have crisis in their hands. And for the Central Banks that has intervened with billions of Naira again will not be able to recoup their money.”
“The processors who have invested in rice mills at the beginning of this administration will also be threatened if we do not address the issue of rice smuggling,” he said.
Saraki also stated that if smuggling is not stopped, the over $7billion invested by the government in the last 10 years to stimulate local production will turn to waste.