By Godwin Oritse
Stakeholders in the maritime sector have faulted the increase in import duties contained in the new fiscal policy of the Federal Government, saying that the new policy is a Greek gift, that will encourage smuggling across the country in the coming year.
The new fiscal policy, which takes effects from November 21, 2016, is contained in a circular by the Ministry of Finance with reference number F1714/133.
In the new import policy, Tissue paper that attracted 15 percent has been increased to 20 percent.
Speaking to Vanguard on the new import policy, the National Publicity Secretary of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, Mr. Kayode Farinto, said while other countries were collecting 10 percent duty on rice, Nigeria collects 10 percent and a levy of 40 percent, which is 50 percent.
Farinto said that the government may mean well but that formulators of these policies were getting it wrong, adding that they cannot put the cart before the horse.
He explained that fiscal policies of government should encourage Nigerian importers to return to the country, but that the current import policy has further sent them to ports of neighbouring countries.
He said: “Nigerian importers should be encouraged by being given incentives and what are these incentives? They are duty reduction on imports. Government should reduced the duty on new vehicles as the duty on such cargoes has made it impossible for majority of Nigerians to buy them.”
“Take Prado for instance, if you bring in a 2015 Prado, you are likely to pay a duty of N6million but if that same Prado comes in through Cotonou, the most you will pay as duty will N1million at the land border and the same vehicle is smuggled into the country.
“What the government should have done was to abolish the auto policy because the policy is not mass oriented, it will not generate revenue for government and it is anti-economy.
“Where are the locally assembled vehicles, the Senate Committee came and discovered that so called locally assembled vehicles were vehicles that were fully built imported without tyres and mirrors.
“It takes only five men to assemble the vehicles in Nigeria.”
Similarly, the National President of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, NCMDLCA, Mr Lucky Amiwero, said that fiscal policy measures were supposed to attract investments and create wealth.
Amiwero explained that in as much as the government wants diversify the economy, there was need to create a balance so as not to loose the nation’s cargo traffic to other countries.