The Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) has raised an alarm about increasing influx of substandard goods into Nigeria, even as it condemned importers and freight forwarders for deliberately circumventing trade procedures.
Speaking at a town hall meeting in Lagos yesterday tagged on ‘Ease of Doing Business and Export; the Imperative of Standardization', the Director General of SON;Osita Aboloma noted that the implementation of executive order on ease of doing business is not for government agencies alone but also for the private sector.
Aboloma who was represented by Director of Inspection and Compliance, Engr Bede Obanyi condemned a situation whereby freight forwarders encourage their importers by using a different HS Code to clear a cargo. He said that most of the time, the SONCAP certificate found with a cargo does not match its content.
He told the gathering that: "The executive order of the government is already yielding positive results, but the order is not only for government agencies but also for the organized private sector. SON has within this period found a lot of issues with importation into Nigeria"
"How would somebody be bringing a product that is not branded into this country, the product is not properly labeled, there is no country of origin on the product and no manual to say what it would be used for."
"The people along the chain, the clearing and forwarding practitioners are not doing it right, if you are telling the importer that you can use a different HS Code to bring a product into Nigeria, you are not contributing to the ease of doing business in Nigeria"
"This is the essence of the meeting for us to collaborate with the importers and manufacturers"
The SON DG noted that made-in-Nigeria cables are one of the best in the world, such that unscrupulous importers are now cloning foreign products as if they are made in Nigeria. According to him, almost all the made-in-Nigeria products are certified and have NIS and MANCAP certification.
He reiterated that importers are not fulfilling their obligation in respect of compliance to trade, and that SON as a government agency cannot fold its hands and allow Nigeria to be flooded with substandard products.
Also speaking, National President of Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents, Prince Olayiwola Shittu said that the ease of doing business is not achievable.
Shittu who was represented by National Publicity Secretary of the association; Kayode Farinto said that ease of doing business is achievable theoretically, but not in practice. He said that government should declare a state of emergency at the nation’s seaport because of the bad condition of the roads.
"What should be done before ease of doing business can be successful is for government to be pragmatic to the plight of the people by fixing the roads, it should empower the Nigerian Shippers’ Council because as it is, the council is a toothless bull dog that can bark but not bite"
On his part, President of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) Chief Increase Uche said that for importers to stop losing their cargoes to government agencies, they must seek advice from the right freight forwarders.