The Minister of Finance Kemi Adeosun, on Tuesday, tasked the Director-Generals of Customs and African Union Commission to bring on board the issue of 0.2% import levy and come out with the guidelines for its implementation.
She based the call for the implementation on making it a permanent source of funding for implementation by all members states as a permanent source of funding activities of the Commission.
Adeosun made this disclosure at the first extraordinary meeting of the African Union sub-committee of Directors-General of Customs in Abuja.
The minister also pointed out to the meeting that Africa cannot continue to settle for the position of the biggest world’s buyer without selling to the world market in return.
According to her, the continent must come to the trade table as an equal partner that is buying and selling in order to correct the age-long embarrassment that has made its economy vulnerable.
Her words: “But on a more serious note, I really do welcome you. I hope that the conversation would be deep, I hope they would be robust, I hope that they would be patriotic to Africa. We need an African focus.
“We cannot continue to be the world’s biggest market for anybody who wants to sell anything. We need to come to the trade table as equal partners, selling as well as buying. And we must correct some historical embarrasses that have made our economies very vulnerable.”
The minister noted that Nigeria is not just African’s largest economy by size but African’s largest economy by impact, stressing that the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali has shown the way that Africans ought to go as the largest economy by initiative- spearheading and hosting the meeting.
She revealed to the meeting that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is very committed to the ease of doing business and it has recently outlined a number of some radical changes in the expectation of the public for service delivery.
The Nigeria Customs Service, said the minister, is the first part of the changes, which has called for the need to re-engineer some of the processes that the meeting was expected to come up with the strategies for their implementation.
Speaking, Ali retired, recalled that since the decision to hold the meeting in Harare, Zimbabwe in November 2016, the service had been mobilising personnel and materials to provide a conducive environment and a befitting welcome to make it most successful.
He said it was the expectation of the Nigerian Customs that the meeting would bring all the African Union Customs Administration together to articulate a common agenda and speak in unison during the World Customs Organization’s Annual General Council Meeting coming up in July 2017.
The meeting, according to him, would afford the African continent the opportunity to occupy the rightful position in the WCO within the administrative and political hierarchy and exert an authority to influence policies that will be beneficial to the continent and enhance the intra-African trade.