Rising import duty charges may push businesses away from Nigeria–Obi

Former Governor of Anambra state and presidential candidate of the Labour Party in the 2023 elections, Peter Obi has warned that the inconsistency in duty charges collected at the ports by the Nigerian Customs may eventually push businesses away from Nigeria to neighbouring countries.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Wednesday again, for the umpteenth time, increased the rate for Customs duty exchange to N1,605.82/$1.

This development is coming less than five days after it marginally reduced the Customs Exchange rate from N1515.48 to N1472.756\$1

In February alone, the agency has increased the rate seven times, reflecting the volatility in the broader forex market.

The rate, which has already been reflected on the Customs portal today, February 21st, 2024, has further dampened the hope of the despondent customs brokers and their importers that the Apex bank had finally eased its foot on the pedal.

Reacting, Obi in a statement posted on his official X handle asked the government to stop the arbitrary and ever-increasing customs duties, noting that the government cannot afford to target high customs revenues at the expense of the survival of local businesses, employment and reasonable cost of living.

According to Obi, the inconsistencies in the charges are now negatively impacting businesses and the cost of items, warning that it “portends a huge danger to the economy”.

“A situation where at the point of initiating importation, Form M and other documents related to importation are based on a particular rate of exchange, for example, N1000 to $1, being the prevailing exchange rate at the time which the importer of goods was used to calculate the entire process, from the import initiation to receipt of goods in his warehouse,” he said.

“Then suddenly when the goods arrive in Nigeria, and duties are calculated at different rates, say N1400 to $1, it becomes a serious business challenge that results in business losses. Worse still, it directly fuels the inflationary spike which is the basis of increasing cost of goods and living.”