By Yinka Kolawole

The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has commended the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the introduction of e-Evaluator and e-Invoicing for import and export, noting that it will enhance trade transactions and boost revenue.

In a statement made available to Vanguard yesterday the Director General, LCCI, Dr Chinyere Almona, stated: “The objectives for the introduction of e-Evaluator and e-Invoicing for import and export by CBN are quite commendable as it is expected to facilitate trade transactions, boost revenue through more accurate invoicing, and reduce processing time for import and export forms. The application of a Global Price Verification Mechanism guided by a benchmark price is also commendable.

“As we transit to a more automated system, there is a need to increase our investment in digital infrastructure to support the innovative digital products that are emerging in the country. We also encourage the Federal Government to automate more processes to reduce human interface as a way of curtailing corruptive tendencies in our trade chain.”

Almona, however, said there should be a pilot phase to help identify potential challenges and deal with them before the commencement date of 1st of February, which is only 10 days from the issuance of the guideline, noting that it does not give sufficient time for proper transition.

She also noted that issues of legal liability are not clear, and dispute resolution mechanisms need to be articulated.

“The CBN needs to establish an interactive and live customer complaints resolution section within the Trade Monitoring System to address any bottlenecks that may occur during transactions.

“There is a need to clarify if the subscription fee of $350 is to be paid in Naira equivalence or foreign currency and if in US Dollars, whether affected users will be allowed to source the Dollars through the CBN.

“The 2.5 percent around the vertical prices appears stringent and should be reviewed to about 5 percent given that discriminatory pricing may be a factor. The exemption of imports worth $10,000 appears too low that no import will effectively be exempted.  There should be sufficient transparency and governance around the CBN-appointed agents, and authorized dealer banks to ensure adequate independence and supervision,” Almona added.

She called on the government that the automation drive be extended to post operations to cut cost burdens on importers and exporters.

“The automation drive should also move to port operations where there are still sensitive procedures done manually with attendant cost burdens on importers and exporters. Since the trade sector has shown some level of resilience and has become one of the fastest-growing sectors, the government should do more to make the Nigerian trade system more efficient and easier to navigate by all parties. This will boost our trade balance and position Nigeria to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) which is expected to gain some momentum this year” she said.

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