Reps vow to recover N5bn ‘illegal waiver’ from China Harbour

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Daniel Terungwa

The House of Representatives has said that it would deploy “all means” within its power to ensure that the N5 billion waiver granted to China Harbour Engineering Company is refunded to the Federal Government.

Chairman of the House Public Account Committee, Wole Oke, stated this during the investigative hearing into the audit query issued by the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.

The Chinese company allegedly received a waiver worth over N5 billion for the importation of construction materials that are available in the country.

Oke wondered how a company with a share capital is N10million would be getting waiver of N5 billion.

“The China Harbour will pay back that N5 billion. We will collect our money back. We will engage the Customs, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and every other relevant agency to go and get our money back,” he said.

The House of Representatives had uncovered the N5 billion import duty waiver illegally granted a Chinese firm, China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), by the Federal Government.

CHEC is involved in multibillion dollars road and port contracts in Nigeria. In 2017, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) said it entered into a deal worth more than USD$86 million with CHEC to buy out the NPA’s remaining equity in the Lekki Deep Sea Port.

The Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts, Wole Oke, while speaking at the investigative hearing into the audit query issued by the office of the Auditor General of the Federation against the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on Wednesday, expressed disappointment with the various regulatory agencies that approved the waivers in breach of “due process and extant financial regulations”.

Oke said the waivers have a huge negative impact on Nigeria’s economy.

He said, “The solution is that we should step up our oversight and ensure that nobody is undermining the revenue accruing to this country, either through these schemes I’ve mentioned or fraudulently.

“Like in the case of China Harbour; China Harbour got a contract in Nigeria through contract financing and then you are claiming duty waiver of over N5 billion on items and materials that are available in Nigeria. They are importing them, they kill local industries. You are injuring us from both ends.

” We just have to resolve that the MD of China Harbour should cause appearance. All they are trying to do is to cover up. When it comes to capital flight they don’t mind but when it comes to accountability they are running away. And those who granted the duty waiver; we must ask them and that Is why we invited the Ministry of Finance to come and defend the duty waiver.

“A company that is bringing in cement when there is Dangote Plc producing in Obajana, we have in Okpella, Ewekoro, Ibesi and they also pay the duty, meanwhile they charge Dangote duty when they bring equipment, he said.

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