The League of Maritime Editors (LOME) at the weekend condemned the new rate of exchange used in calculating duties on imports by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
It would be recalled that a rate was released by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and handed over to the Customs Service (NCS) for implementation.
According to the reports, the Customs Service is now to calculate duties on imports at the rate of N1,356.883 per $1.
In a statement issued by the President of the League of Maritime Editors, Chief Timothy Okorocha and the Secretary, Mr. Felix Kumuyi, the League described the rate as outrageous in view of the obvious consequences it has on the national economy.
According to the press statement “the rate is destined to be counter productive if the federal government is desirous of addressing the economic challenges currently being faced by Nigerians”
Coupled with the current petroleum price hike under the deregulation policy and its consequences on cost of transportation, the League believes that the current customs duty exchange rate will further worsen the living conditions of Nigerians as importers and manufacturers will be forced to increase prices of their goods.
Furthermore, the League noted that Nigerians are currently facing hard times as a result of the increasing high prices of goods and services in the market. According to the League of Maritime Editors “There is hardly any day that prices of all types of food and other goods in the market do not go up. So, the new rate to be implemented by the Customs in calculating duties will worsen the situation”, the statement said.
The League while noting that the Customs management is simply implementing the directive handed to it by the federal government, advised the management of the Nigeria Customs Service to inform the Finance Ministry and the Central Bank of Nigeria, of the consequences especially if the policy is sustained.
The League of Maritime Editors’ statement added, “Economic policies are introduced for the good of the people and not to worsen their living conditions and expose them to extreme poverty. Every policy must have human face. This current policy is certainly against the common interest of the people because it will further send them to early graves because it will further worsen the price explosions being experienced in different markets all over the country”.
The League pointed out that such high rate of duties will further discourage imports, a development that will lead to high scarcity of essential goods in the market as well as have consequences on the prices of things.
Part of the statement further reads, “The new rate will stifle trade rather than promote trade. Cargo throughput will further go down. It will hit everyone, including manufacturers who will be forced to raise high prices as they are doing now.
The few that manage to bring in goods will have no choice than to raise their prices to such that only very few people will be able to afford to buy these goods. What it means is that the policy will only favour the rich who can pay for anything and leave many Nigerians to their own fate. We believe that this is not what the present administration of President Ahmed Bola Tinubu stands for.
“So we feel that government should take another look on the rate. The Customs Service should take up this matter with the Ministry of Finance and CBN. Every policy must promote economic wellness of the people and not send them to their early graves. If you insist on implementing the new rate, some importers will have no choice than to pay, but remember that it is actually Nigerians that will suffer at the end, because the importers will ensure they recover their invesments.” the statement noted.