The Nigerian government has been advised to urgently probe into the circumstances leading to huge loss of revenue in the tune of N110 billion within the last one month due to inability of importers to clear their consignments at the ports.
A group, The Transparency Awareness Group (TANGO), in a letter of protest addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari and Senate President Ahmad Lawan, signed by its national coordinator, Frank Nzeogwu, raised the alarm over what it described as the imminent collapse of the nation’s economy.
The group also noted that about 30,000 jobs may soon be lost to the situation if not quickly arrested.
Mr Nzeogwu alleged that Nigerians are suffering in the hands of Webb Fontaine Group, a consultant appointed by Nigeria Customs Service to implement a Customs centric Single Window Portal and the provision of IT & Telecom infrastructure for the nation in a bid to ensuring easy access to clearing of consignments at the port, unfortunately, the roles of the firm really negates the revenue drive of the federal government.
According to the letter, ” At the moment, there is huge backlog of consigments meant to boost the nation’s production capacities in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic stocked at the nation’s port. Importers have lost about N10billion to demurrage charges while the Customs Service and other government agencies have lost about N100billion to duty and other essential charges in the last two months.
“Federal Government has in its 2019 fiscal policy measures approved zero percent import duty to all machines and equipments for Agricultural,Cement, Iron and Steel (Cold Roll) and Aviation among others.
“Hitherto to the introduction of automation of import duty exemption certificate (IDEC) platform, the investors used to clear their consignments of machineries without any problems but for the past three months everything changed with the introduction of IDEC platform.
“The investors could not clear their goods using this IDEC platform because the fiscal policy measures were not captured in platform making impossible to assess. While the former code used for such sectoral concessions was disengaged with the introduction of IDEC platform. Fiscal policy measures are not exemption but concessions introduced by Government to trigger growth in some sectors of the economy.”
“This complaint becomes pertinent due to the fact that nations of the world are currently adopting holistic economic policies capable of overhauling the revenue drive, improve socioeconomic as well as infrastructural development in quick response to the urgent need for ease-of -doing business mechanism occasioned by the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic globally and Nigeria is not an exemption.
“This is a great sabotage against the federal government especially the economic advisory team, the Minister for Finance, Hajia Zainab Ahmed, the Minister for Industry, Trade and Investments, Otunba Niyi Adebayo as well as the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele despite their efforts towards stimulating the nation’s economy.
” If this ugly situation persists, importers’ deliverables to manufacturers would be affected which may eventaully translate into shutdown of industries thereby leading to lost of jobs by over 30,000 Nigerians. We urge the government to quickly arrest the current situation in the collective interest of the nation.”
The group therefore advised the consultant to place national interest above trivial and unpatriotic issues capable of setting the nation’s economic policy backward.