The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) on Tuesday stated that about 99 per cent of the goods imported into the country are substandard, noting that the agency has been directed by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI) to reverse the scourge.
The Director General, SON, Dr. Paul Angya, explained that since the inception of the SON Conformity Assessment Programme (SONCAP) since 2005 to reduce the preponderance of fake and substandard goods in the country to the barest minimum, unscrupulous importers have not repented in their sinful ways to desist from the act.
The SON boss said substandard products are the most talked about in the country catching the attention of the federal government, maintaining that the menace is so serious that it has almost diverted the federal government’s priorities in revamping the national economy.
However, he added that the standards body has been directed by the FMITI to reverse the trend within the next three months, a feat which he said would require all stakeholders and the public to help achieve.
Angya during a maritime stakeholders’ awareness forum in Lagos, noted that the Electronic Provisional Clearance Certificate (EPCC) which was closed as a result of importers abusing the platform to import fake and substandard goods into country will be reopened for effective use from April 25, 2016 to July 24, 2016.
He explained that the move by the agency is to give opportunities to genuine importers to clear their cargoes, saying that after the 90 days grace period, any import without SONCAP certification will be detained by SON,charged a fine of 20 per cent on the value of the goods and subjected to test.
“If the goods pass they are released to the stakeholders, if they fail, they will be destroyed and the importer also requested to pay for the destruction,” he said.
Angya during a maritime stakeholders’ awareness forum, stressed that the platform will be closed after three months, pointing out that the EPCC meant to fast track trade flow in line with World Trade Organisation (WTO) had resulted into massive importation of substandard goods into the Nigeria market where more than 60 per cent of imports are by passing the regulation process using the EPCC and other gimmicks.
He said at this time in the history of Nigeria, the most talked about subject is the prevalence of substandard goods, maintaining that the menace has become so serious that the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment has given the agency three months to reverse the trend.
”It is my pleasure to host this forum to create awareness among you as regards the SON role in facilitating trade through Standards.
He said before September 10, 2015 , the SONCAP certification were carried out and hard copy certificates were issued for processing Form M and Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR), but stressed that the hard copy certificates were abused in all form by some stakeholders within the trade circle to the detriment of the Nigeria economy.
Representatives of trade associations in their goodwill messages restated their commitment to support the agency in its efforts to eradicate the prevalence of substandard goods in the country.
The President, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), represented by the National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Stanley Ezenga, said over time freight forwarders have partnered SON to combat fake and substandard goods in the country, stating that the association is solidly behind SON to combat the scourge.
The State Coordinator, Safe Nigeria Freight Forwarders Association of Nigeria, Dr. Osita Chukwu, said his association is totally committed to eradicate the preponderance of substandard goods into the country.
“We are here to show our solidarity with SON on its new drive to eradicate substandard goods in the country. What is not permissible in other countries should not be allowed in Nigeria. Nigerians should demand for nothing less,” he said.
The Vice President, African Tyre Village, Mr. Okechukwu Ezeifeoma blamed trade associations are killing importers, stressing that there are so much trade associations at the port hindering trade development in the nation.
The Coordinator, Zonal Office, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Mr. John Ofodike, said Nigeria has no choice than to support SON its fight against substandard goods due to the vital role it plays in safeguarding lives and properties in the nation.
He commended the agency in its decision to reopen the EPCC, maintaining that it will help genuine importers to clear their cargoes at the ports.