Stake holders in the import sector have lamented the steady decline in revenue and business that has followed various government policies, to the tune of about N600 billion. The Nigerian Customs Service, terminal agencies, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Licensed Customs Agents have all cried for the review of these policies.
The two main controversial policies are the automobile policy and the policy on the ban of imported rice. For its part, the automobile policy implemented in 2013 increased tariffs on imported vehicles from 20 percent to 70percent. This has led to a steady drop in the volume of automobile imports into the country, as attested to by the stakeholders.
Leadership News reports that figures released by terminal operators in Lagos ports showed a 63% drop in number of cars discharged at the ports, while Nigerian ports as a whole were said to have discharged 75% less than they had before the implementation of the policy.
The chairman, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Princess Vicky Haastrup, said that for trucks, the volume dropped from 2,700 units in January 2014 to 1,700 units in January 2015.
What has been poison for the Nigerian import revenue has been meat for the Benin Republic as the drastic drop in auto imports in Nigeria corresponded to a period of sharp growth for the same sector in Cotonou ports.
In Cotonou port, the total number of cars and vans discharged in January 2015 was 30,000 units against 20,000 units discharged in January 2014. This represents a 50 per cent growth. Similar trends have been registered also for trucks,” Leadership News quotes Haastrup as saying.
The same situation applies to the ban on the importation of rice which has led to drop in revenue at the ports and increased smuggling attempts through the border. Between January and February 2016, about 9,238 bags of rice were seized from smugglers, with about N64.67 million as duty paid value.
There seems to be some hope, though, as the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Ms Bala Usman said that the FG would look into a review of the automobile policy.
Parts of this article originally appeared in Leadership News.