By Godwin Oritse & Chizoba Nwaizu
THE Federal Government has lifted the embargo on the importation of textile materials into the country. Confirming this in Lagos yesterday, the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, (NCS), Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko said that Nigerians can now import textile materials subject to payment of right duty.
Speaking at the official launching of the implementation of Economic Community of West Africa States, (ECOWAS), Common External Tariff, (CET), Dikko said that the items were removed from the prohibition list in line with the laws guiding the CET regime. “Textile, furniture and others have become dutiable as both commodities have been removed from the Import Prohibition Lists and it is going to be implemented” said Abdullahi Dikko.
The Customs boss, who was represented by Victor Gbemudu, Assistant Comptroller General, Zone ‘A’, said that importers of these goods are now expected to pay 35 percent duty as agreed by ECOWAS member countries as well as the levy as contained in the Import Adjustment Tax (IAT).
“CET also comes with some adjustments for member countries. There are 97 chapters with the 5,899 tariff headings but every member country is entitled to 3 percent adjustment. “This 3 percent adjustment translates into 177 tariff headings to enable member countries to protect their local industries.”
Gbemudu said these items were banned because the government wanted to protect the local industries involved in the manufacturing of these goods. He also promised that by 2020, there would no longer be any item on the import prohibition list as everything would have been harmonized. He said that the CET is subject to review every five years.
He however said that poultry products still remain banned as government cannot allow their importation from outside the country. “If you go through the Common External Tariff you will see that a lot of items have been removed from the prohibition list and it is going to be implemented; mostly, furniture, textiles and the rest of them, most of them will now pay duty and will have Import Adjustment Tax (IAT)”
“The CET is not new, it embraces about 15 countries which includes Nigeria, all we are just doing is to bring stakeholders to understand what the CET is all about and to a large extent it comes with some adjustments for member countries”, he explained.
Speaking on the advantage of the CET on Nigerian economy, Gbemudu assured that there would no longer be policy somersault on importation, saying that importers can now project and plan five years ahead since the duty payable will remain the same. He charged stakeholders not to blame the Customs or the federal government for any inconveniences occasioned by the implementation of CET, saying that it is not peculiar to Nigeria, but that it is a regional thing.
Gbemudu said that customs introduced the Import Adjustment Tax (IAT) in order to protect certain policies of government such as the sugar policy, agricultural policy, solid mineral policy among others.
The new CET regime according to an official of the tariff will eventually lead to consolidated regional market while stimulating regional production capacity and deepening economic integration. It will recalled that the Federal Government banned these items in 2010 with a view to growing the local industries.