By Godfrey Bivbere
Minister of Finance, Olusegun Olutoyin Aganga, has taken a swipe at importers and their agents for delay in the clearance of imported goods from the nationâ€™s entry points in their bid to cheat and short change the federal government.
The Minister who spoke in Lagos,Â at a two-day sensitization workshop on Destination Inspection scheme organized by the Finance Ministry for importers and other stakeholders in the maritime industry, said the desire of importers to maximize profit by all means had remained a major challenge to the scheme and had led to the delay in the clearance of goods from the ports.
According to the minister, â€œThere are many challenges facing the process of Destination Inspection, and some of these are created by some importers either intentionally or otherwise, to fraudulently short change government in the name of maximizing earnings.â€
Aganga who was represented by Mr Rasaki Dabiri, an official of the ministry, identified some of the fraudulent ways as over invoicing; leading to capital flight, under invoicing to evade appropriate payment of duties, abuse of quantity and quality assurance and insufficient description of goods.
Other method employed by importers he continued are, discrepancies in their documentation,Â duplication of final documents, not opening of Form â€œMâ€ before embarking on their transaction, final documents with expired Form â€œMâ€, incomplete and improper documentation and prohibited or exempted import, amongst other, he concluded.
In his response, the National Secretary of Importers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Kingsley Chikozie, gave some reasons why importers would want to cut corners and said however that the association was ready to partner with the relevant body to remedy the situation.
He explained that â€œimporters are subjected to several charges ranging from seven percent port development levy, seven percent Value Added Tax (VAT), one percent ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) and all the other charges which makes cargo clearance expensive.â€
Mr. Chiokozie added thatÂ to truly eliminate these challenges, efforts must be made evolve a Public, Private Partnership (PPP) in port operations in the country.