By Kenneth Jukpor
In a swift reaction to the criticisms on the Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Col. Hammed Ali (Rtd.), the Service has lamented that Ali’s position on the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) has been misconstrued.
The National Public Relations Officer of NCS, Mr. Joseph Attah stressed this in a press release disseminated today.
Attah stated that the CG’s position was in support of increased local production for the nation to benefit from the forthcoming ACFTA.
“The CG explained the implications of ACFTA on revenue, stating that all imports from member countries will be duty free hence the nation must encourage local production and Excise duty rather than Import duty which will drastically drop soon,” the press release said.
Attah noted that the Customs boss said he would rather collect Excise duty than Import duty, because for every import monies are taking out of the country.
The NCS Spokesman said Ali was clear and emphatic at the public hearing on preference for excise over import, adding that “it is hard to understand the reason(s) for this twist and dangerous misrepresentation.”
The press statement read; “The attention of Nigeria Customs Service has been drawn to a gross misinterpretation of the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd) on his presentation at the public hearing of the Senate Committee on Finance.”
“A write-up going viral on social media unfortunately misrepresented the CGC’s position on Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement erroneously misinforming the public that the CGC is against the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement/Facilitation, because it will affect revenue collection.”
“For the avoidance of doubt, the CGC and indeed NCS is not against the implementation of any protocol that Nigeria is a signatory. NCS role is to implement and provide input that might help policy formation in the interest of Nigerians.”
“We strongly believe that Nigerians have a right to know the implications of ACFTA and actions that must be taken to benefit from it and not becoming a dumping ground for other countries’ goods. Twisting and giving it a different narrative relating to Import duty is not only dangerous but mischievous misrepresentation that does the nation no good.”
“On the contrary, the CGC’s position was in support of increased local production for the nation to benefit from the forthcoming ACFTA. He explained the implications of ACFTA on revenue, stating that all imports from member countries will be duty free hence the nation must encourage local production and Excise duty rather than Import duty which will drastically drop soon.”
According to Attah, it was also unfair to attempt to link CG’s comments at the public hearing to issues of scanners, partial border closure.
“The author ending with recommending single window system as a viable means of growing Customs revenue collection shows a total loss of the understanding of CGC’s presentation. He obviously does not know that the amended Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) has not been passed into law and seems not to be aware that NCS is not the procuring agent for new scanners, hence, cannot be linked to any amount he quoted in relation to scanner. It is almost laughable to appear to recommend a bit of ICT to an organization whose processes are mostly automated and was informing the Senate Committee about the readiness of the Service to commence end to end e-Customs,” Attah added.