Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) recorded a loss of N230 billion in the last quarter of 2015 due to the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) closure of the foreign exchange window to 41 imported items.
The Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (rtd), who made the disclosure, said a request for the review of the policy had been tabled before Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.
Ali had as part of his continuous engagement with various stakeholders, concluded a week-long working visit to Lagos and other operational areas in the South-west at the weekend.
During the visit, he met with members of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) where issues of mutual concerns were addressed.
On the front burner of the parley were concerns raised by the participants on the constraining impact of the CBN policy banning some items from accessing the official foreign exchange market.
In his response, Ali noted that the policy had created a revenue shortfall to the tune of N230 billion in the last quarter of 2015, adding that a request for a review had been tabled before the vice-president.
“At the end of the forum, the two sides acknowledged the growing cordial relationship existing between the Customs and the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, and expressed commitment to sustaining the tempo.
“To formalise the relationship, it was agreed that a joint Customs-MAN team would be set up to harmonise areas of conflict in a current draft Memorandum of Understanding.
“Continuous engagement, honest declaration, training of importers and regular advocacy were recommended to address the issue of value upliftment and queries.
“Customs was enjoined to monitor its new dispute resolution mechanism and review it for modification if there are gaps in implementation,” a statement issued by the NCS Public Relations Officer, Wale Adeniyi, said.
According to the statement, while showing understanding for the current economic downturn, which places pressure on the Customs Service to safeguard revenue on contentious declarations, the forum encouraged the NCS to balance this out by availing importers the opportunity to use the bond option to avoid heavy demurrage pending a final resolution of such disputes.
“The forum noted the growing violation of the intellectual property rights of Nigerian manufacturers resulting in the fake replication of their products by foreign companies,” it said.
The regular exchange of information, tracking of suspect cargo and strong collaboration were advocated to address these trade malpractices.
On complaints over the Export Expansion Grant (EEG), the forum noted that its suspension was due to incessant abuse by some beneficiaries who indulged in racketeering and other vices.