By James Emejo
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), yesterday stated that it is waiting for clear directives from the National Action Committee (NAC) on implementable tariffs for all goods covered by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on July 28, 2019, approved the establishment of the NAC, for the implementation of the AfCFTA’s agreement that he signed on behalf of the country at the 12th Extraordinary Session of the African Union Heads of State on July 7, 2019, in Niamey, the Republic of Niger.
The NCS, however, pointed out that the NAC is required to provide it with the list of duties and charges waived for liberalised goods under the AfCFTA; the list of the 90 per cent liberalised national trade offers; the list of 70 per cent non-liberalised exclusive goods at the regional level and the list of three per cent non-liberalised sensitive goods.
A statement by its Spokesman of the NCS, Mr. Joseph Attah, however, assured the public of its preparedness to fully deploy its services at the shortest notice.
The customs’ clarification came amidst concerns over the seeming tardiness and preparedness of Nigeria to hit the ground running following the launch of AfCFTA on January 1.
The customs also stated that it is looking forward to the appointment of a competent authority that would be responsible for issuing and authenticating certificates of origin and registering enterprises and products within the region.
Attah said: “Our desire is to imbue trust in the system while guaranteeing the economic safety and wellbeing of businesses within the country.
“Sequel to the ratification of the AfCFTA by member nations, the NCS has found it pertinent to inform the public about steps which must be taken to enable its smooth and full implementation.
“Instead of proceeding in a chaotic manner, the NCS as policy implementer understands the importance of spelling out the roles and responsibilities of all parties in this agreement and the conditions attendant on its implementation.
“We wish to re-confirm our willingness and readiness to play our role as trade facilitators in this regard. However, we also wish to remind the public that our functions are highly automated and primarily systems driven. Hence the need to methodically harvest and integrate all data associated with the AfCFTA into our system for easy deployment, access and use by the trading public.”
The service further recommended that each member country should have a representative in the continental chamber of commerce to ensure transparency within the body thereby generating confidence in the system.
“This in our view should be complementary to the activities of the various chambers of commerce of each country in the region.”
The statement assured that the NCS is firmly committed to successful implementation of the agreement as it is optimistic that an era of complete economic integration would lead to growth and prosperity for businesses within the continent
It said: “We want to assure the public of our preparedness to fully deploy our services at the shortest notice. Our desire is to imbue trust in the system while guaranteeing the economic safety and wellbeing of businesses within the country.”
Paul Obi Foundation Awards Scholarships to Imo Communities
The Sir Paul Obi Foundation, which is a nonpartisan and profit making body floated by the Company Secretary of the NIPCO Plc, Mr. Paul Obi has marked its third year anniversary with offers of scholarships and social intervention grants to indigent people in the society.
Obi, who spoke at the third anniversary ceremony that was held at the foundation’s complex in Ogberuru, Orlu Local Government Area of Imo State, said that activities marked out for the commemoration of the outfit’s third anniversary were primarily geared toward touching the lives of people for good.
He said that the first part of the program is the donation of 135 bags of 25kg rice to selected households in the town in order to cushion the effect of COVID -19 pandemic disease while the second part of the anniversary celebration would be used to offer of hope to scores of handicapped people in the area, adding that the foundation has engaged more than 20 of them on January 4, 2021.
The legal icon noted that physically challenged people needed special care as their conditions have put some strains on them.
The donation to the handicapped includes bags of rice and other food items to aid their feeding for some time.
The third part of the anniversary celebration, according to him, was the award of scholarships to indigent people.
The foundation offered about five scholarships to indigent university undergraduates, which brought the number of students enjoying its scholarship to 35.
He recalled that his late father, Mr. Augustine Okoronkwo Obi, who was very pivotal to his being a lawyer, continuously strived for educational pursuits by all.
The foundation also empowered 25 indigent men, women and youths who were drawn from five different parishes with soft revolving grants to enable them start a trade.
Obi highlighted that the foundation would continue with its educational support in the years ahead in order to ward off illiteracy in the communities and the state in general.
He also lauded the support of the traditional rulers in the area who appreciated the program as an effort at making people to be self-reliant.
Obi was conferred with the chieftaincy title of the “Ochendo Ogberuru” by the Traditional Ruler, the Ezi 1 of Ezimba, Ogberuru, Eze Micheal Igwenma.