The Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has said that unless the incoming government of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) addresses the conflicting issues in the Common External Tariffs (CET), it cannot vouch for the document working in Nigeria as in other countries.
Speaking at a news briefing in Lagos, Monday, the National Publicity Secretary (NPS) of ANLCA, Dr. Kayode Farinto stated that the review was necessary if not, it was going to add to the sufferings of the industry practitioners rather than alleviate them.
Farinto who noted that with the CET, the outgoing government of President Goodluck Jonathan had set a booby trap for the incoming administration adding that it may not be eureka yet as a result of what he called Supplementary Protective Measures (SPM) slotted into the tariff.
According to him,” they have a situation where about 177 items will be paying levy not less than, the minimum is 20%, the highest is 50%, a situation where that happens, you expect that there is no solution, there is no eureka. It is as if you are giving somebody something with left hand and you are still collecting it with the right hand”.
“So, if CET is implemented, I am very sure that as a result of over 177 items that has been based on SPM-they called it Supplementary Protective Measures, where they have about 50% levy like vehicles, it is still going back to the old system where Jonathan wants to give us 35% rate of duty on vehicles and 35% rate of duty”.
“We have communicated to the President elect and he is looking into that. My President was at Abuja blast week and we spoke extensively about this Common External Tariff and its workability”.
He maintained that if the government wanted to Nigerians to be patriotic, it must ensure that the various ports in the country would be attractive saying that the government needed to reduce all the illegal and arbitrary charges that were being slammed on the port users.
He continued,” In an ideal situation, we don’t expect somebody who is bringing in consignments, knowing full well that the neighbouring countries are offering a lesser rate of duty, you want him or her to import through your country no matter the level of patriotism, not even in Nigeria whrer there is no level playing ground, the importers are not encouraged, most of them are using bank loans, some of them have even gone bad because of the bankruptcy, because of the Apapa gridlock and as they are going out with their consignments, most containers fall off the truck and unfortunately nobody is giving them any assistance”.
“So, the issue of the Common External Tariff must be addressed by the incoming Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, if not, we don’t see it working because it is not going to alleviate the sufferings of many in this industry rather it is going to add to our sufferings”.
The NPS however observed that the Supplementary protective measures must be expunged from the CET for it to work and even where they were implemented like Cotonou and Ghana, they were done to encourage local manufacturers arguing that one don’t just slam levy of 35% or 50% on imports even as the commodities were not being manufactured locally.