By Stehen Ubanna
Between Jan January and February, 2022, importers with their agent had hoped that Hajia Zainab Ahmed, minister of Finance, Budget and National planning would release the 2022 fiscal policy measures and Tariffs Amendments to guide them what to import and the duties and levies for the goods that may be approved for importation in other to plan their expenditure.
Informed sources Told The Value News that most of the Agents had turned the various Customs offices, particular in Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve- centre as their own office to ascertain if Hameed Ali, , a retired Army Colonel, and Comptroller General , Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, have received the policy document and if it had reached the Commands for implementation. The ministerial delay in releasing the all-important policy document may have informed why some of the Agents, were said to have advised their Importers to put everything on hold until Hajia Ahmed releases the 2022 Fiscal Policy and Tariffs Amendments guidelines.
The fall-out was the low volume of cargo traffic at the Lagos ports of Apapa, Tincan Island, Port Multi-services Terminal PTML, Kirikiri Lighter Terminal Phases I &II and the south east ports of Onne and Rivers port including Delta and Calabar ports.
Note that the government had set a revenue target of N2.2trillion for the NCS, this fiscal year, but the Management may have felt that the Service have the capacity to over- shoot the target that they have increased it to N4.1 trillion for the 2022 fiscal year .
The 2022 Fiscal Policy Measures and Tariffs Amendment for implementation, according to informed sources had been ready since December 31, 2021 but the Finance minister, instead of forwarding to the relevant ministries and other government Agencies, particular, the NCS, Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, NEPC, for implementation had left it in her office to be gathering dust between January and much of February 2022.
Going by the Presidential Calculations, the Finance minister ought to have forwarded the 2022 Fiscal policy Measures and Tariff Amendments document to the relevant ministries and Agencies on January 1st 2022, for immediate implantation to boost the government 20222 revenue generation.
An insider informed The Magazine that the circular for Implementation of the 2022 Fiscal Policy Measures and Tariff Amendments, was forwarded to the office of Secretary to the government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, Niyi Adebayo, a former governor of Ekiti state and now minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Rotimi Amaechi, minister of Transportation and a one- time governor of Rivers state, who had just declared his interest to contest the to 2023, Presidential elections on the ticket of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, before a mammoth crowd in Port Harcourt , Capital of Rivers state after the first two months of the year. Efforts by the Magazine to ascertain when it was forwarded to their respective offices proved abortive.
She was said to have also sent the fiscal policy document to the office of the ministers of Health, Aviation, Communication and Digital Economy, Mines and Steel including Information and culture to guide them in making their requisitions for the year with contravening the Law. The state governors, as members of the Nigerian Economic Council, NEC, were snot left out as they were said to have also recieved the Fiscal policy document.
. The FIRS, NEPC, Raw Materials Research and Development Council, RMRDC, and the Nigeria Government Promotion Council, and NGPC, Chief Executive Officers, CEOs, were said to have received 2022 Fiscal Policy and Tariffs Amendments working document as well to guide them in their relationship with Companies and foreigners making inquiries on Nigerian Fiscal policy measure for the 2022 fiscal year . The office of the Accountant General of the Federation and the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, under the close watch of Godwin Emefiele, were said to have been given the policy document because of their strategic importance by the Finance minister.
source confirmed that Ali, the NCS, Comptroller General, received the policy document on March 1, 2022, who in turn had distributed to the Zonal offices and the Customs Area Controllers at the seaports, airports and Land border Areas , for implementation including the Enforcement units: Federal Operations Units FOUs, Headquarters Strike Force Teams and Border Drills Coordinating Units , across the country to ensure that the provisions of the policy were religious implemented without Compromise.
Investigations by The Magazine shows that the government have introduced the Import Adjustment Tax, IAT, and additional taxes and levies on 172 items which, according to informed sources was in line with ‘’the provisions of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, Common External Tariff, CET’’. But this is causing anxiety in the importers and gents circle who have as described it as ‘’outrageous and going to discourage many of them from importation as they may not be able to cope with it’’.
Take for instance, used motor vehicles under HS Code 8528.72.90.00 and HS Code 85287390.90.00, which CET, rate of duty was 35% between 2017 and 2021, was slashed to 20% rate of duty , but with an additional levy 15% imposed on the imported vehicle.
Efforts to confirm if the duties and levies on the Fully built motor units of a cylinder capacity exceeding 1000cc on HS Code 8703.21.19.00, and other fully built new passenger vehicles including Four wheel drives, motor vehicle and Station Wagon, as well as other other used passenger motor vehicles of a cylinder capacity 15000cc, HS Code 8703.24.20.00 and cylinder capacity exceeding but not exceeding 2,2,500cc., HS Code 8703.31.20.00, which Tariff was 35% and five percent levy between 2017 and 2021, , was also slashed to 20% with an additional 15% did not materialise.
Note that the Nigerian government had approved 2022 Fiscal Policy Measures and Tariffs Amendments, also included Supplementary Protection Measures, SPM, for the implementation of the ECOWAS CET, 2022-2026 and Excise duties on ‘’Non-alcoholic beverages, Alcoholic beverages, Cigarettes and Tobacco products including Telecommunication services’’.
Based on the SPM, for the ECOWAS CET 2022 -2026, the government, was said to have revised the Import Prohibition list to include more items under various HS Codes. A document made available to the Magazine shows that’’ Live or Dead birds, frozen products, Pork, Beef, Bird Eggs, including hatching eggs of old layers stock for breeding research purposes, refined vegetable oil remained prohibited. The government may have given the traders a soft landing ‘’to import refine linseed and Hydrogenated vegetable fats under HS Code: 1516.20.10.00’’.
It is instructive to note that under the revised import prohibition list for the 2022 fiscal year, cane, sweet sugar, chemically pure sucrose, in solid form containing added flavouring or colouring matters, HS Code 701.91.10.00-51701’99.90.00 in retail packs, Cocoa butter, powder and Cakes, Tomatoes, Spaghetti/Noddles, Tomatoes pastes, whole or in pieces and Tomato paste or Concentrates, put for retail sale, HS Code 2002.90.20.00-2009.90.90.00 were banned.
This is in addition to Tomato Ketchup and other Tomato sauces, HS Code 2103.20.00.00, Fruit juice, waters, including mineral waters, and aerated waters containing added sugar or sweetening matter or flavouring ice snow under HS Codes 2201.10.10.00 – 2201.90.00.00, were equally prohibited from being shipped into the country this 2022, fiscal year to protect Companies producing the items locally.
The trader, going by the revised import prohibition has been given the approval, ‘’to import energy or health drinks, liquid dietary supplements, eg. Power Horse, Red Geinseng etc, under HS Code 2202.90.0.00 and stout (bottled, Cained or otherwise packed, ), HS Code 2203.00.10.90.00’’.
Indeed, the government may have bowed to pressures from Dngote Industries Limited, which have the multi-billionare business mogul, Aliko Dangote as its President and other Cement Manufacturers in the country to still ban the importation of bagged Cement into the country. A senior Customs officer who spoke to the Magazine on condition of anonymity disclosed that the banned bagged cement product come under HS Code 2523.29.00.00.
Although, importers with their agents could heave a sigh of relief that Hajia Ahmed, the minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning has finally released the 2022 Fiscal policy measures made up of supplementary Protection Measures, SPM, for ‘’the implementation of the Economic of West African States, ECOWAS, Common External Tariff, CET, , 2022 -2026 , and excise on Non-alcoholic beverages, Alcoholic beverages, Cigarette & Tobacco products and Telecommunication equipment, they still have their reservation.
In the Area of Medicaments based on the Import prohibition list, Hematinic formulations such as ferrous sulphate and ferrous gluconate tablets, Folic Acid tablets, Vitamin B Complex tablets, Capsul and syrups, Aspirim tablets, except modified release formulations and soluble aspirin, Magnesium trisilicate tablets and suspensions, Piperazine tablets and Syrups, levamisole tablets and Syrups, Oitments penicillin,/gentamycycin, Pyrantel pamoate tablets and Syrups, including intravenous fluids(Dextrose Normal saline etc were otrightly banned from being imported into the country either by land, sea or airports.
Tramadol Codeine and several other pharmaceutical products under different Headings including
Waste Pharceutiques, Mineral or chemical fertilizers containing the three fertilizing elements nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, NPK, Soaps and detergents Mosquito repellant coils, rethreaded and used Pneumatics tyres were banned from being imported into the country. But truck used tyres for rethreading of size11.00 x20 and above 4012.20.10.00, importers may have to continue the importation as the Fedeal government did not ban it. This should gladden the heart of the used truck tyre traders.
The worst hit were traders of Corrugated paper and paper boards, cartons, boxes and cases made from Corrugated papers and boards, Toilet paper, cleansing or facial tissue, including baby diapers and incontinent pads for adult use, Carpets and Rugs of all types, All types foot wears, bags and suit cases may have to change their line of business to still remain relevant in the nation’s Non-oil sector.
Even importers of safety shoes used in in the nation’s oil industry, sports shoes, canvas shoes and all completely Knocked down, CKD, blanks and parts, Hollow glass bottles of a capacity exceeding 150 mls or 0.15 litres of all kinds, Used Compressors, Used Air Conditioners,, Used fridges/freezers and used Motor vehcles, above 12 years from year of manufacture also have a cause to worry as they may have been technically thrown out of business.
Even without Citing the 2022- 2026 ECOWAS CET, the Area Controllers at the ports, airports and Land border areas , may have continued to use the 2017 -2021, ECOWAS CET, to process importers documents to collect duties for the government in the first two months of the year believing that that there may not be much difference with what may be contained in the 2022 fiscal policy. They were right. They were said to have started implementing the 2022 fiscal policy Measures and Tariffs Amendment From March 1, 2022 till date, making revenue generation for the governemnt.Unconfirmed report said most of the revenue generation Commands, particular, Apapa, Tincan Island and Port Harcourt Area 11, Onne, had doubled their March revenue collection at the expense of the Importers who had to pay through their nose the appropropriate duty and Levey to exit their cargo from the port.