• Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Port users back Reps on e-invoicing creating hurdles for businesses

Port users back Reps on e-invoicing creating hurdles for businesses

Port users have supported the argument made by the House of Representatives that the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) proposed electronic invoicing for the opening of Form M for cargo importation will create delays in cargo clearance.

To them, processing of e-invoicing will reduce the volume of goods imported into the country in the next six months due to the delay the process would likely create.

They say it will also work against the Ease of Doing business at the port by delaying and elongating the number of days needed for processing Form A for exporting goods from Nigeria.

Tony Anakebe, managing director of Gold-Link Investment Ltd, who described the e-invoicing as another way of validating Form M, said it will affect the volume of goods coming into the country.

Anakebe said that the appointment of offshore dealer banks to validate the invoices before sending an electronic copy to the CBN would impose extra costs on importers.

“The CBN has appointed some offshore banks that will now regulate or validate the invoices that would be sent by importers to CBN for the opening of Form M. Those offshore banks would definitely demand a percentage of charges that would be collected to cover for the services rendered. In terms of volume of import, it will take at least six months for importers to overcome the teething challenges that would come with the introduction of the proposed e-invoicing,” he explained.

Read also: Buhari promises to revive under-utilized ports in South-south

Continuing, he said: “This will impose additional cost and it will not help manufacturers as well as importers. For instance, companies pay taxes, Value Added Tax (VAT), withholding tax, other charges at the time, which amounts to double taxation and discourages businesses from investing in the country.

Anakebe suggested that automation of port processes that would create a one-stop-shop for cargo clearance should be encouraged in Nigerian ports.

“We understand that the CBN wants to get the actual value of every goods that come into Nigeria but we are seeing a situation where importers would be made to pay a higher duty, which will go back to the economy by inflicting more cost and hardship on Nigerians.”

Government, he said, needs to open up the economy for investors and businesses to compete, this will bring down the prices of goods in the country vis-à-vis inflation rather than creating opportunities for few.

On her part, Chinyere Almona, the director-general of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), who commended the move, said the development requires a pilot phase to help identify potential challenges and deal with same before the commencement date.

According to her, the Feb. 1 commencement date is insufficient for proper transitioning.

“There should be sufficient transparency and governance around the CBN-appointed agents and authorised dealer-banks to ensure adequate independence and supervision,” she said.