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NECA accuses Customs of impeding ease of doing business

The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) has raised concerns over what it termed recurring bottlenecks associated with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), which are hindering ease of doing business by manufacturing companies.

The employers’ body said that at a time when all hands must be on deck to promote local enterprise competitiveness and prevent job losses, actions of the Customs operatives are jeopardising government’s efforts at promoting the ease of doing business in Nigeria.

Speaking in Lagos on Monday, the Director-General of NECA, Timothy Olawale, stated that “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.

According to Olawale, in recent times, incessant issues with the NCS 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 observed that “rather than facilitate enterprise competitiveness in line with 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.”

Olawale also pointed to the improper valuation of consignments and reckless interception of containers after legitimate clearance, among other ills being carried out by the Nigeria Customs.

He said with dwindling oil prices at a time when the nation needs all the investment it can attract, these bottlenecks will further make the nation fall behind in investment destination rating.

Olawale argued that “while the Customs Service is desirous of meeting its revenue target, it should not be at the expense of legitimate businesses.”

He said with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) coming into effect on January 1, 2021, these recurring issues would only destroy Nigerian businesses and make importation of manufactured goods more attractive with grave consequences for Nigeria and Nigerians as a whole.

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