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Review import duty, Customs administration to drive ease of doing business—LCCI

Fresh agenda on the best way to deepen ease of doing business in Nigeria has been drawn by the leadership of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).

This was made public by the Director General, Mr. Muda Yusuf, who in an interview, stressed called for the review of import duty and Customs administration as part of the ongoing tax reform in Nigeria.

It would be recalled that due to rising criticisms from industry players over barrage of taxes and levies facing Nigerian businesses, the federal ministry of Finance recently set up a review committee to streamline taxes paid in Nigeria as part of drive to push up ease of doing business.

Explaining more, Yusuf averred that import duty on many production inputs and investments is still high, and makes investment difficult across sectors.

He posited that high import duty has led to the escalation of smuggling and loss of customs revenue, and huge loss of maritime sector jobs to neighbouring countries, saying “The outrageous import duty on vehicles is a major factor responsible for the current high transportation costs in the country, and this adversely impacts all sectors and it is a major driver of inflation”.

Continuing, LCCI boss disclosed that several businesses are being grounded by the current way and manner Nigerian Customs carry out administration of valuation and classification of goods, saying it has become a major concern for investors in the economy.

“The administration of tariff at the various ports and border posts leaves much to be desired.

“There is a great deal of arbitrariness as the customs strives to meet revenue target, which is the principal performance indicator for the agency. “It is thus necessary to incorporate import duty and customs administration reforms into the ongoing tax review process,” he said.

He added that time has come for dispute resolution system on import duty and valuations to clearly reflect the principles of fairness in all ramifications.

Yusuf averred that “The situation now is that the customs is the accuser and the judge; which is not in consonance with the basic principles of justice delivery.

“The tax system toward enhancing customs should not be a judge in a case where there is dispute between the customs and an importer,” he said. Yusuf also stressed that issues of multiple taxation levied on investors by the three levels of government should also be addressed within the framework of the current tax reforms,” Yusuf, DG of LCCI argued.