The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has commended the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over its recent guidelines on e-Evaluator and e-Invoicing that replaced hard copy final invoice.
However, crucial questions were raised regarding the subscription fee, time for proper transition and customer complaints resolution section of the invoice.
This was disclosed by the Director-General of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr Chinyere Almona. The initiative was a major step to arrest the age-long practice of over-invoicing which dodgy importers and exporters had over the years used to cart away the nation’s forex.
According to the LCCI, the use of an e-Evaluator and e-Invoicing will speed up trade operations, increase income through more accurate invoicing, and minimize the time it takes to execute import and export paperwork.
Dr Chinyere Almona, on the other hand, raised several concerns that the CBN should address in order to improve creativity.
She said, “Ideally, for a critical change of this nature, there should be a pilot phase to help identify potential challenges and deal with these before the commencement date.”
She also pointed out that the new guideline’s implementation date of February 1, 2022, was only 10 days after the guidelines were issued, which she felt was insufficient time for a smooth transition.
She pointed out that concerns of legal liability were not clearly mentioned in the guideline, and that the dispute resolution procedure needed to be explained.“The CBN needs to establish an interactive and live customer complaints resolution section within the trade monitoring system to address any bottlenecks that may occur during transactions.” she said.
She added “There is a need to clarify if the subscription fee of $350 is to be paid in Naira equivalence or foreign currency and if in the US Dollars whether affected users will be allowed to source the dollars through the CBN,” she said, adding that, “the 2.5 per cent around the vertical prices appears stringent and should be reviewed to about 5.0% given that discriminatory pricing may be a factor.”
She stated that in order to build such a system, there should be more stakeholder participation and collaboration with the organized private sector.
The adoption of a Global Price Verification Mechanism led by a benchmark price, according to the LCCI, is also praiseworthy.
It said: “As we transit to a more automated system, there is a need to increase our investment in digital infrastructure to support the innovative digital products that are emerging in the country. We also encourage the federal government to automate more processes to reduce human interface as a way of curtailing corruptive tendencies in our trade chain.”
The chamber also stated that the automation push should extend to port operations, where sensitive procedures are still performed manually, putting importers and exporters at a financial disadvantage.