The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has commended the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over its recent guidelines on e-Evaluator and e-Invoicing that replaced hard copy final invoice as part of the documentation required for all import and export transactions.
The initiative was a major step to arrest the age-long practice of over-invoicing which dodgy importers and exporters had over the years used to cart away the nation’s forex.
In a statement yesterday, the LCCI stated that introduction of e-Evaluator and e-Invoicing would, “facilitate trade transactions, boost revenue through more accurate invoicing, and reduce processing time for import and export forms.”
However, the statement by the Director General of LCCI, Dr. Chinyere Almona, pointed out certain issues that would require the attention of the CBN in order to improve the innovation.
Almona said: “Ideally, for a critical change of this nature, there should be a pilot phase to help identify potential challenges and deal with these before the commencement date.”
She also noted that the February 1, 2022, commencement date for the implementation of the new guideline provided only 10 days from the issuance of the guidelines, saying it did not give sufficient time for proper transition.
She observed that issues of legal liability were not clearly stated out in the guideline and pointed out that the mechanism for dispute resolution need to be articulated.
“The CBN needs to establish an interactive and live customer complaints resolution section within the trade monitoring system to address any bottlenecks that may occur during transactions.
“There is a need to clarify if the subscription fee of $350 is to be paid in Naira equivalence or foreign currency and if in the US Dollars, whether affected users will be allowed to source the dollars through the CBN,” she said, adding that, “the 2.5 per cent around the vertical prices appears stringent and should be reviewed to about 5.0 per cent given that discriminatory pricing may be a factor.”
The LCCI also noted that the, “exemption of imports worth $10,000 appears too low” as no import would be effectively exempted.
It, therefore called for, “sufficient transparency and governance around the CBN-appointed agents and authorised dealer banks to ensure adequate independence and supervision.
“Beyond these, consideration should be given to users of this platform that are Small & Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs). We are also concerned about the potential impact of this new guideline on headline inflation.
“Finally, there should be deeper stakeholder consultation and collaboration with the organised private sector in developing such
The LCCI stressed that the application of a Global Price Verification Mechanism guided by a benchmark price was also commendable.
It said: “As we transit to a more automated system, there is a need to increase our investment in digital infrastructure to support the innovative digital products that are emerging in the country. We also encourage the federal government to automate more processes to reduce human interface as a way of curtailing corruptive tendencies in our trade chain.”
The chamber also noted that the automation drive should also move to port operations where there are still sensitive procedures done manually with attendant cost burdens on importers and exporters.
“Since the trade sector has shown some level of resilience and has become one of the fastest-growing sectors recording a year-on-year growth rate of 11.90 per cent in the third quarter of 2021 and a contribution of 14.93 per cent to GDP in Q3 of 2021, the government should do more to make the Nigerian trade system more efficient and easier to navigate by all parties.
“This will boost our trade balance and position Nigeria to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) which is expected to gain some momentum this year.” The LCCI said.