Stakeholders in importation and cargo clearance businesses have expressed divergent views on the 0.2% import levy slammed on all cargoes emanating from African Union (AU) countries.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, has on Monday announced the rate of 0.2 per cent as the new import levy of Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) on goods coming into Nigeria.
She had disclosed this while addressing the State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa.
She said, however, there were exemptions to the new levy.
She said: “Council approval a rate of 0.2 per cent as the new import levy of CIF that will be charged on imports coming to Nigeria but with some exceptions.
“The exceptions include goods originating from outside the territory of member countries that are coming into the country for consumption.
According to the Minister, the purpose of the new levy is to enable African Union (AU) members pay on a sustainable basis, their subscription to the AU.
Ahmed said that Nigeria knowing that what would accrue from the new levy would be more than what was required as subscription to the AU, that the balance would be put in a special account.
But, reacting to the new levy in a chat with Shipping Position Daily yesterday, immediate past president of Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA); Prince Olayiwola Shittu kicked against the introduction of the levy, saying that it would add to the cost of importation.
Shittu advised that government should rather focus on creating a revolution in the agricultural sector where 60 percent of harvested produce are wasting away.
Specifically, the ANLCA President said “special effort should be channeled towards creating industrial revolution in the agricultural sector to stem the 60 % waste of harvested products.
"Then we can feed Africa with our products and not give cash sorely needed at home. Many factors cause inflation, but this will add to cost of import" he said
Also speaking with our correspondent, another stakeholder; Mr. Olumide Fakanlu said that the import levy introduced by the federal government is in order.
He described the policy as being well defined and purposeful.
According to him, the volume of goods coming from African Union countries into Nigeria is limited and very low.
On his part, a member of Governing Board of Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN); Mr Sanni Shittu also supported the move by the government.
He argued that most of the goods that are considered of African origin actually originated from Europe but landed in African countries to avoid direct taxes to Nigeria in form of duties and other charges.
Shittu said that the only way the federal government can make her money indirectly is through the 0.2 percent levy.
He said "The policy is all about revenue drive because the government is desperate about taxes to fund the budget, and since Nigerians have foreclosed increase in VAT which would have generated high turnover that would have serviced d budget, so any other way is a way.