Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja
The Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC), has lamented that customs-related tax exemption waivers were delaying some of its projects in the country.
Owing to this, the agency said it has not been able to put to use items donated to Nigeria by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), its technical partner.
Nigeria has been an IAEA member state since March 1968 with its focus area now on nuclear and radiation safety, food and agriculture, health and nutrition, water resources and environment as well as energy and industry.
Speaking during the opening of a three-day national workshop for IAEA project counterparts on enhancing the effectiveness of the organisation’s cooperation with Nigeria in Abuja, Acting Chairman of NAEC, Mr Mukhtar Ali, noted that the problem was slowing down several of the projects while the equipment were wasting away.
“Permit me, at this juncture, to bring to your notice the customs-related challenges. The delays in obtaining tax exemption waivers for the agency-donated items meant for the execution of TC projects in the country is very prominent among these challenges.
“The cause of these delays is multifaceted and it is mostly as a result of lack of proper understanding by project counterparts of the procedures for obtaining waivers, non-payment of requisite fees for waiver processing as well as poor timing on initiating action for obtaining waivers,” he stated.
He noted that within the framework of Nigeria’s technical cooperation with the IAEA, there are over 20 national, regional and interregional projects being implemented in the country in the areas of human health, agriculture, water resources, radiation as well as safety and environment.
Mukhtar stressed that the technical cooperation programme remains the main channel through which the IAEA delivers its support to Nigeria, adding that through that cooperation, the international organisation gets to understand the needs of Nigeria.
He noted that to ensure that the country derives optimal benefits from the implementation of all the projects in the country, NAEC was conducting the workshop to discuss the progress and challenges associated with implementation.
In his comments, an Assistant Director, NAEC and National Liaison Assistant, IAEA, Nigeria, Mr Awwal Bisallah, stated that since 2010 the two bodies had not had the opportunity of meeting to discuss challenges and areas of cooperation.
“We saw some decline in the implementation of projects. There have been a lot of challenges. We have attributed this to lack of synergy between the office of the national liaison officer and project counterparts.
“The benefit is for Nigeria and we shouldn’t allow Nigeria to lose. At the end of the day, we want to have an improved implementation of all IAEA projects and where we have bottlenecks, we can talk to government.
“We have a lot of equipment that have been donated under this framework, but we cannot move them to our universities for research and training because their are hitches around getting import duty certificates,” he said.