The implementation of the the new ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET) Fiscal Policy Measures in the country has engendered confusion among the port users which has led to slow pace of clearing activities at the Lagos ports.
Customs brokers are being cautious to make their declarations for fear of paying higher tariff on their goods.
Some stakeholders claimed that the harmonised tariff regime will lead to 25 -40 increase in clearing costs.
They based their analysis on the fact that while some levies have been collapsed, they have equally been reintroduced under another name as 50 percent Import Adjustment Tax (IAT).
The tax came up after the collapse of the 5 percent VAT, 0.5percent ETLS and 7percent port levy.
They claimed that the tariff structure ought to have been broken down by the Minister of Finance ,DrMrsNgoziOkonjoIweala to clear any area of ambiguity that could be exploited by Customs officers to hike tariff.
‘As it stands now, the tariff is opened to different types of interpretations which could lead to confusion we are witnessing now’’, an Apapa port based importer observed.
Consequently, it was gathered that most importers and their agents are adopting ‘wait- and- see’ attitude until the tariff is simplified and all ambiguities are resolved.
The approval for the implementation of the new Tariff was conveyed in a statement signed by the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. NgoziOkonjoIweala.
In a press statement issued by the Deputy Controller of Customs, Mr Wale Adeniyi, the implementation of the ECOWAS CET together with its Supplementary Protection Measures (SPM) and 2015 Fiscal Policy Measures occurs concurrently and will take effect from April 11after the expiration of the 30- day notice required under the provisions of the ECOWAS CET.
With this development, all imports arriving into the country beginning from April 11, shall be subjected to the rates contained in the CET 2015- 2019 and 2015 Fiscal Measures without recourse to the rates applicable before the coming into effect of the ECOWAS CET 2015 – 2019, according to the statement.
Adeniyi added that the approved Supplementary Protection Measures (SPM)/Fiscal Policy Measures comprise an Import Adjustment Tax (IAT) list which involves additional taxes on 177 Tariff Lines of the ECOWAS CET.
It also includes a National List consisting of items whose Import duty rates have been reviewed to encourage more development in strategic sectors of the economy and an Import Prohibition List (Trade), applicable only to certain goods originating from non-ECOWAS Countries.
The statement urged all stakeholders to ensure compliance with the New ECOWAS Tariff to enhance trade facilitation within and outside the region.