NAGAFF HAILS FG OVER LIFT OF FOREX BAN ON 43 ITEMS, KNOCKS EMEFIELE OVER UNFRIENDLY FISCAL POLICIES
By Mcanthony Onuoha
National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders-NAGAFF has hailed the Federal Government over the recent lift of Foreign Exchange ban on 43 items.
The Founder of NAGAFF, Dr. Boniface Okechukwu Aniebonam, in a press release he personally signed on Sunday, 15th of October 2023, and made available to the media commended the Acting Comptroller General of Customs, Mr. Wale Adeniyi and the Central Bank of Nigeria for reversing what he described as a very ‘unfriendly fiscal policy’ of the former CBN Governor , Mr. Godwin Emefiele.
DR. BONIFACE OKECHUKWU ANIEBONAM, FOUNDER, NAGAFF
Recall that the CBN placed a FOREX ban on importation of rice and 42 other items 8 years ago; that very fiscal policy succeeded in putting a lot of importers and agents out of business which in turn caused scarcity of the items and capital flight as smuggling them into the country through the land boarders became an alternative.
As it were, there was no outright ban on the 42 items but the inability of importers to access Forex from the banks stifled and emasculated businesses and livelihoods of traders of those items.
According to Aniebonam,
“we the members of NAGAFF shall start our reaction over the lifting of forex ban on importation of rice and 42 items of traded goods by the federal government of Nigeria by congratulating the comptroller General of the Nigeria customs service, Adewale Bashir Adeniyi.”
“It has become obvious that new hope for Nigeria has become a reality. This is because it is unthinkable that Mr. Godwin Emefiele, other than facing his primary assignment of regulating monetary policies of Nigeria, decided to dabble into trade matters. This man Emefiele indeed was a disaster to the economy of Nigeria. We strongly believe that his suffering has just begun and we thank Mr. President for his popular decision to lift the ban on forex benefits on rice and 42 other items of trade goods”.
“And for the Customs, we thank the past administration for being able to manage the human element barriers to trade which was caused by Mr. Godwin Emefiele.”
“Many Nigerians may not really know the level of damage done to trade by the action of the Former CBN Governor, the man mischievously and technically banned importation of rice and 42 other items of trade goods. This is because the trade policy of Nigeria is mandatory on all imports into Nigeria to undergo FORM M registration through authorised commercial banks”
“It therefore connotes that the ban on Form M registration on rice importation and the other 42 items were a straight ban on the items from being imported into Nigeria . Nigeria trading public must be very grateful and appreciative of the Nigeria Customs to have found a way out to assist within tolerable limit thus relying on section 27 of Customs and Excise Management Act – CEMA as it were, dwelling on improper documentation to act — Bill of sight under destination inspection trade policy of the government.”
“The freight forwarding Practitioners , shippers and indeed, the trading community will never forgive and forget the damage done to their investments by the avoidable actions of Mr. Godwin Emefiele seating as Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN).”
“And for the Customs administration, we thank God for you by the relief of the government to have lifted the ban which shall enable you to continue with the ongoing Customs modernisation. This is because the action of Emefiele stifled compliance level of the trading community in the Customs ports and borders.”
What the CGC needs to do at the moment is stakeholders engagement, enhanced compliance and responsible partnership with the freight forwarding Practitioners. New hope for Nigeria in the area of Customs control shall include collaboration with the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria- CRFFN whose mandate is to control and regulate the practice of freight forwarding in Nigeria.”
“Additionally , the new customs administration must understand that the modern day administration is about devolution of power and authority to enhance productivity. It therefore means that the Zonal Commands of the Nigeria Customs service must be activated to play a major role in Customs operations.”
“The Customs headquarters should be made to concentrate on policy issues, welfare of officers and men, training and retraining of officers, disciplinary measures, issuance of licences and permits , promotions , international relations and engagement etc.”
“Seating in Abuja headquarters and issuing trade alerts at the ports and borders may be anti trade facilitation actions and indeed, a sign of distrust of the operational officers”.
“What is certain and indeed a fact is that Customs duty assessment starts from the ships manifest submitted to the Customs by the captain. Therefore, the Pre Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) ruling center of the Customs should attract the attention of the Comptroller General of Customs. PAAR Ruling Center should be made to perform their statutory responsibility as a risk management tool and facilitator of trade.”
“NAGAFF as a responsible partner to the Nigeria Customs Service, at this time and inline with new hope for Nigeria, it is our belief that NCS must think out of the box. We are conversant and familiar with the statutory functions of the Customs which shall include but not limited to revenue collection and accounting, suppression of smuggling activities, trade facilitation and provision of trade data for budgetary matters etc.”
“NAGAFF understands that the NCS is putting too much pressure on revenue collection functions and meeting up targets. This is not too good for trade in Nigeria because it is apparent that over assessment of imports is prevalent.”
“What the Customs must do is to enhance compliance and ensure proper Customs examination of ladden containers imported into Nigeria. This is simple and straightforward to ensure appropriate customs duty collection.”
“To think out of the box, the Nigeria Customs Service should profile big time importers and encourage them to diversify into manufacturing. In so doing export shall evolve and excise duty will be collected. This is aside the foreign exchange earned from export and creation of employment. Customs is the epicenter of the nation’s economy.”
“Once again we thank the CGC for disbanding the CGC Strikeforce and we are looking forward to meeting you in our domain to discuss Customs operations and matters of urgent importance which we can not talk about here.” Aniebonam stated.