The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has kicked against the demand by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should include some 93 items on the forex restriction list.
MAN had during its advocacy visit to the Presidential Villa last week told President Muhammadu Buhari that to sustain the relative stability being experienced in the organised private sector and improve the performance of the sector, there was need for the CBN to include 93 items that it submitted for inclusion in the list of 41 items restricted from accessing foreign exchange since 2016.
“We commend the CBN for all the support extended to the manufacturing sector to date. This uncommon level of support is responsible for the relative stability being experienced today and the return of some manufacturing concern to full operations. To however sustain this and improve the performance of the sector, the CBN needs to include 93 items that MAN submitted for inclusion in list of 41 items restricted from accessing foreign exchange since 2016 and remove other items that are vital raw materials that are not available locally from the list,” the MAN team had told President Buhri.
However, in a letter addressed to the President and copied Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Senate President Ahmed Lawan; House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila and 13 others and signed by NAGAFF Secretary General, Dipo Olayoku, the association pointed out that the level of ‘uncommon support’ by the CBN to MAN, which necessitated the unguided banning and restrictions of trade goods by the government is responsible for the high level of untrue declarations by importers at the ports.
The letter reads in part: “As at today at the Customs ports and land borders, the Nigeria Customs is contending with matters of untrue declaration of goods into Nigeria, the remote cause being the avoidable restriction of trade goods coming into Nigeria. Mr. President, it is a revelation at the moment that because of uncommon support to MAN and its members, due processes in our ports are in breach in relation to foreign trade in Nigeria. The situation on ground is that those listed items are technically banned from importation for the fact that Form ‘M’ is not allowed to be registered in their favour.
“What we get right now is that government seems not to really know much of the balance of trade in our economy because these good are coming into Nigeria through smuggling or what NCS prefers to as untrue declaration. The unstable trade policies of the government are definitely causing so many problems to the Customs administration in a country where a lot of people are hungry.
“Mr. President, you can now notice why Nigerians are suffering because of the level of uncommon support of the CBN to MAN members in the name of job creation. The uncommon support of the CBN has necessitated the breach of import regulation guidelines (2013), even though an inferior document to Customs laws on trade matter. Import guidelines stipulate that every import into Nigeria must have a registered form ‘M’. It is surprising that CBN may have denied Nigerians who have foreign exchange to bring goods into Nigeria either on bill for collection and or non- valid for foreign exchange. Why must CBN advise Commercial banks to stop registration of form ‘M’ for the products delisted from forex market?”
While urging the government to help the informal sector to become organised through legislation, the freigt forwarders’ body said government support to MAN and its members have not added expected value to the economy but rather enriching individuals.
NAGAFF also faulted claims by MAN that Customs was not implementing approved tariff on cargoes effectively, describing the claim as unfounded and baseless.