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Importers murmur as FG raises import duty by 6.1%

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ANXIETY
New import duty may fuel import concealments, under declarations and other anti- trade practices at the seaports and borders

 

 

Following the new foreign exchange policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), importers and clearing agents using Nigeria’s seaports have said that the cost of clearing goods may further affect prices of consumer goods in the market.

It was learnt that the new monetary policy introduced by the apex bank is expected to be used by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to calculate import duties at the seaports and borders.

The import exchange rate has been increased from N306 to N326 per dollar.

With the new rate, import duty charged by the Customs has gone up by 6.14 per cent.

The Controller of Apapa Area Command of NCS, Comptroller Abba Kura, said that the implementation of the new exchange rate would take immediate effect.

It was gathered that the new cargo declaration made by importers would reflect the new exchange rate of N326.

Worried by the policy, Customs agents using the port said that it would add to the cost of clearing cargoes at the port and prices of goods in the market.

The agents explained that the exchange rate would lead to diversion of Nigeria-bound cargoes to neighbouring ports of Lome, Cotonou and Tema.

According to the Managing Director of Scepter Consult, Ayodele Jayeola, who is a cargo consolidator, the increase in the exchange rate may further affect the nation’s economy, which is yet to fully recover.

He noted that cost of clearing cargo in Nigerian ports and borders would be determined by the prevailing foreign exchange rate, stressing that importers would pay more on cargoes.

The managing director added that new cargoes coming into the country would follow the adjusted N306 to N326 per dollar.

He recalled that the import duty was adjusted in 2017 from N282 to N316, but was later reduced to N306 by government.

Jayeola further explained that importers might be forced to abandon their cargoes at the port because of the new rate, noting that the ports in Lagos were already congested with overtime cargoes.

He said stakeholders should have been consulted before the implementation of new policies.

Jayeola said that the new import duty would not only fuel inflation, but increase smuggling of goods across Nigeria’s frontiers.

Also, the Managing Director of Okpoto Logistics Limited, Mr. Sam Elem, said that the new exchange rate would bring more hardship for Nigerians.

Although, he said that the new rate would help increase the Federal Government’s revenue at the port and the borders.

However, Elem said that consumers should expect to pay more on goods and services.

According to him, some importers may likely abandon their consignments in the port because of the sharp fall in naira.

He said that before the new rate, there had been series of smuggling, import concealments, under declarations and other anti- trade practices at the port, saying that the N326 to a dollar rate would further fuel sharp practices at the borders and ports.

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