Customs: South-East traders reject import duty hike
The South-East Amalgamated Markets Traders Association (SEAMATA) has criticised and rejected the recent “astronomical and indiscriminate” increment in the import duty on cargoes charged by the Nigeria Customs Service.
SEAMATA is the umbrella union of traders in all the markets in the South-East region and traders of South-East extraction doing business across the states in the federation and diaspora.
This is contained in a statement jointly signed by SEAMATA’s president-general, Gozie Akudolu, and secretary-general, Alex Okwudiri, in Enugu on Monday.
The customs introduced a method of paying import duty on goods and set out a particular minimum amount payable for each 40-ft container.
The statement said, “Between 2020 and now, the amount charged on cargoes as import duties has risen in geometric proportion from N750,000 to N2 million, again to N3 million and currently, to N3.3 million for 40-ft containers; while 20-ft containers jumped to N1.8 million.”
It added that the customs, on their own, worked out payable import duty now based on “estimated” invoice value of consignment as against the actual invoice value of goods from the country of origin.
“This development is not only bringing untold hardships to importers but is also compounding the pains of the citizens as it dovetails to astronomical increase in prices of imported goods as the Nigerian Customs estimated invoice value is always far above the actual cost of the imports,” the statement further explained. “The indiscriminate estimate of value of goods by Nigerian Customs is adversely affecting the prices of goods in the markets today, both imported and locally-produced as it triggers a chain reaction.”
The group said even agricultural products were not spared in the chain effect of the price increase.
“In the general meeting held in Onitsha on Wednesday, November 24, 2021, the traders resolved to condemn and reject the increment. We are appealing to the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to prevail on the Nigerian customs to, as a matter of urgency, suspend the exercise,” the association added. “This is to save the Nigerian citizens from further economic hardships as further economic pains that follow such situations could lead to social unrest, which our nation doesn’t need now.”
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