he Federal Government has constituted an Inter-Agency Committee to enforce ban on collection of levies and taxes on agricultural produce on highways.
A statement issued by Mr Tony Ohaeri, the Director of Information, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Abuja on Monday, said the committee was inaugurated by the Minister, Chief Audu Ogbeh.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the committee was constituted following recommendations of the Presidential Taskforce on increasing food prices set up in February by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Ogbeh had raised concerns about the illegal checkpoints and revenue collectors along transportation routes for food items, saying it had its impact on the current increase in the prices of food.
Ogbeh, represented by Dr Bukar Hassan, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, said the committee had become imperative following non-compliance by relevant state agencies and local government authorities which charged multiple levies on agricultural produce.
He urged the committee to facilitate government’s directives on the multiple levies and un-authorised checkpoints during transportation of agricultural produce from one state to another.
“As stakeholders, we are aware of the incessant petitions by agro-commodities traders against the non-adherence of the implementation and abolition of multiple tax collection and levies on the highways.
“The minister has appealed to the 36 state governments and FCT, conveying the decision of the Federal Government on the subject matter to ensure total compliance of all parties.
“Local government authorities have continued to impose such levies and taxes on agricultural produce being moved through the highways,’’ he explained.
Ogbeh urged the committee to also work in accordance with the approval of the National Council on Agriculture.
He said the council had suggested a one stop inspection, grading and certification point of all agriculture produce during its transportation.
According to the minister, the certificate of clearance issued by one state should be accepted at all produce inspection posts throughout the country without an additional levy till the point of destination.
Some of the terms of reference to guide the committee Ogbeh said include; determining modalities to ensure the enforcement of the ban, and to secure state government commitment and compliance.
According to him, the committee is also to request state government’s restriction of relevant state agencies and local government authorities.
The statement quoted Alhaji Auwal Maidabino, the Chairman of the committee and Director of Planning and Policy Coordination in the ministry as saying “the committee would deliver the task given to them.’’
NAN reports that members of the committee were drawn from the Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Customs Service, and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.