From Geoffrey Anyanwu, Enugu
The South East Amalgamated Markets Traders Association (SEAMATA) has expressed its resentment with the recent astronomical and indiscriminate increment in the import duty on cargoes charged by Nigerian Customs, declaring its rejection of same.
SEAMATA which is the umbrella union of traders in all the markets in the South-East geo-political zone and traders of South East extraction doing business across the states of the Federation and in Diaspora, said the new increment would cause untold hardship to both its members and the masses and called for the suspension of the exercise.
In a statement signed by Chief Gozie Akudolu and Mr Alex Okwudiri, SEAMATA’s President General and Secretary General respectively, in Enugu yesterday, the association noted that the Nigerian Customs introduced a method of working out import duty payment on goods and set out a particular minimum amount payable for each 40ft container and with it items with the least percentage tariff of five per cent were not even spared.
SEAMATA further complained that current import duties were no longer calculated based on the invoice value of consignments.
According to the association, “Between 2020 and now, the amount charged on cargoes as import duties have risen in geometric proportion from N750,000 to N2 million, again to N3 million and presently, to N3.3 million for 40ft containers; while 20ft containers jumped to N1.8 million.
“The Nigerian Customs on their own, work out payable import duty now based on “estimated” invoice value of consignment as against the actual invoice value of goods from the country of origin.
“This development is not only bringing untold hardships to importers but is also compounding the pains of the citizens as it dovetailed to the astronomical increase in prices of imported goods as the Nigerian Customs estimated invoice value is always far above the actual cost of the imports.
“The indiscriminate estimate of the value of goods by Nigerian Customs is adversely affecting the prices of goods in the markets today both imported and locally produced as it triggered a chain reaction. Even agricultural products are not spared in the chain effect of the price increase.”
The traders according to the statement, strongly condemned and rejected the increment, in the general meeting held in Onitsha on Wednesday, November 24.
“We are appealing to the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to prevail on the Nigerian Customs to, as a matter of urgency, suspend the exercise.
“This is to save the Nigerian citizens from further economic hardships as further economic pains that follow such situations could lead to social unrest which our nation doesn’t need now.”