By Favour Nnabugwu
The Director-General of Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Dr Paul Angya, has alerted the federal government of massive importation of substandard goods into the country. This, he said, has forced the SON to shutdown the Electronic Provisional Clearance Certificate (ePCC) platform after the 90 days expiration elapsed this year.
In an interview with Vanguard in Abuja, the acting SON DG, Angya said that the agency has been having a running battle with importers who have refused to align themselves with the legal platform to process their Soncap.
Angya who was obviously taken aback by the allegations against the agency he heads stated, “We have a problem with importers of goods because they are cheating. They are manipulating the importation regime of goods to the country with the import of their goods.”
The Soncap process is done online without the intervention of any member of staff of the organisation, following the scrapping of hard copy papers for effective and better service. Nigerian Customs Service has established a digital platform, an online platform through which products coming into Nigeria can been seen and where people are supposed to register their import, all manifest of all consignments coming into Nigeria can been seen there.
He said, “On that platform, if you are bringing in any product without SON certificate of compliance which is called Soncap, you will not be cleared to bring in those goods because the CBN will not issue you Form M through which you can import.”
He continued, “So that platform enabled us to see almost everybody who is importing which was not the case before. Today those who were beating the system are having challenges. “The importers are avoiding the quality verification process that was established by the government to verify the quality of goods they import into Nigeria which has resulted in the complete overrunning of the country.”
The DG explained that the ePCC platform which has a self-service window, was meant to open to clients’ need only for three months but SON at a meeting with stakeholders extended the platform for another three months after the stakeholders pleaded for further extension, a move Angya said, was the last after which the importers would have to strictly follow the legal process of Soncap .
Meanwhile, some groups of importers in a statement , alleged that the government agency had not approved their Soncap which they claimed was heaped up in the organisation.
“We have over the last few months evaluated the system and discovered that the substandard products are majorly from China and other Asian countries,” he noted. The clarification from the SON came on the heels of some group of importers, alleging that the SON DG had refused to approve their Soncap.