Customs compounding manufacturing sector’s woes — NECA
By Victor Young
Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, NECA, yesterday raised the alarm, saying the recurring bottlenecks associated with the Customs Service were hindering the ease of doing business and compounding the woes of manufacturing companies.
The umbrella body for employers in Nigeria contended that at a time when all hands must be on deck to promote local enterprise competitiveness and prevent job losses, the actions of Nigeria Customs Service operatives were jeopardising government’s efforts at promoting the ease of doing business in the country.
Speaking in Lagos, Director-General of NECA, Dr. Timothy Olawale, said: “It is a known fact that the world economy is on the precipice with nations doing all that is necessary to keep their productive sector going.
‘’Recent incessant issues with the Nigeria Customs Service have become worrisome as it has the potential to push businesses off the cliff, thereby fast-tracking the demise of more enterprises and exacerbating the current unemployment situation in Nigeria.”
While expressing concern at operational challenges faced by businesses, he said: “Rather than facilitate enterprise competitiveness in line with the government’s policy on Ease of Doing Business, Customs operatives have constituted themselves into clogs in the wheel of legitimate businesses through inconsistent and arbitrary tariff classification, excessive and unfriendly duty rate on key raw materials without local substitute, improper valuation of consignments and reckless interception of containers after legitimate clearance, among others.
‘’With dwindling oil prices and at a time when the nation needs all the investment it can attract, these bottlenecks will further make the nation to fall behind in investment destination rating.
“While the Customs Service is desirous of meeting its revenue target, it should not be at the expense of legitimate businesses.
‘’With the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCFTA coming into effect on January 1, 2021, these recurring issues will only destroy Nigerian businesses and make importation of manufactured goods more attractive with grave consequences for Nigeria and Nigerian as a whole.”