From Geoffrey Anyanwu, Enugu
South East Amalgamated Markets Traders Association (SEAMATA) has rejected the recent “astronomical and indiscriminate” increment in the import duty on cargoes charged by the Nigerian Customs.
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 country 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 SEAMATA’s President General and Secretary General, Chief Gozie Akudolu and Mr. Alex Okwudiri, 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 invoice value of consignments.
The association said: “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 astronomical increase in prices of imported goods as the Nigerian Customs estimated invoice value is always far above the actual cost of the imports.
“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. “