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How Nigeria is losing huge revenue to forex crisis – importers

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Nigeria is losing over $500m annually to exchange rates volatility , among other economic inconsistencies, the Importers Association of Nigeria has disclosed.

According to The Punch, the National Coordinator of Customs, Shipping and Terminal Operations of the association, Dr Basil Nwaolisa, who revealed this in an interview, also lamented that the cost of clearing consignments at the port had gone up to 300 per cent in one year.

“And the country is losing more than $500bn annually, it should even be more than that. In a month we are losing about $47bn then if you multiply it you would know. A situation whereby a year ago, you could clear a cargo with say N5m but now the same consignment would be cleared with N20m or above, don’t you see it is a big problem

“What if the worth of that importer is about N15m, can he import a container now? The demurrages are very big issues. Demurrage is now N60,000 per container, which means if the consignment stays in the port for a month, calculate N60,000 for one month,” Nwaolisa said.

He reiterated that the issues of forex were a major stress on importers.

“You know that if you want to import some consignments for example in the United States of America, China, or Korea, you have to deposit some money so that they would be producing and sending to you. At times we exchange money at N390/$ and when the goods finally come back, you start paying duty on that consignment at about N1500/$ that one alone is creating inflation and stress,” he reiterated.

According to Nwaolisa, some importers have consignments at various warehouses that can’t be sold, “because at the end of the day, you would sell and you won’t get your capital, thereby, making the person poorer”.

He lamented that 60 per cent of their members had dumped importation.

“Some of our members are no longer coping. Some have retired to their fate and started doing menial jobs. About 60 per cent of our members have stopped importing, and what this implies is that in the next four to five months, there will be serious inflation. It would get to the extent that with money in your pocket, you won’t even see anything to buy,” he warned.

He urged the government to always consult with stakeholders before implementing a new policy to enable them to adjust.

“There is no place in the world that they don’t give people time before implementing a policy. For example, if you want to change the exchange rate from N400/$ to say N1,000/$, you have to give people time for those who have already engaged business on N400/$ to round off before you can implement the policy,” Nwaolisa explained.

He said that the crisis had led to about an 80 per cent drop in importation.

“So far, these crises have caused more than 80 per cent drop in importations and you know the Nigerian economy is import powered. Most of the things we use in Nigeria are imported,” Nwaolisa said.

Also, the former Vice President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, Mr Kayode Farinto, corroborated the importers’ claims.

He stated that the forex challenge in the country had taken a serious toll on importers.

“I may not be able to quantify what they are losing but I know they are losing so much to the forex crisis. Whoever that gave you that figure must have done his or her job very well to be able to come up with that figure,” he said.

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