South-East traders kick against new increment in  Customs import duty

The South-East Amalgamated Markets Traders Association (SEAMATA), said it has rejected the recent increment in the import duty on cargoes charged by the Nigerian Customs Service.

The group described the increment as “astronomical and indiscriminate”.

SEAMATA is the umbrella union of traders in all the markets in Nigeria’s South-east and traders of South-east extraction doing business across the states in the country and in Diaspora.

The group expressed their stance against the increment in a statement jointly signed by its President-General, Gozie Akudolu, and Secretary-General, Alex Okwudiri, in Enugu on Monday.

It said that the Nigerian Customs introduced a method of working out import duty payment on goods and set out a particular minimum amount payable for each 40-ft container.

The group said items with the least percentage tariff of five per cent are not even spared.

Current import duties, according to the group, are no longer calculated based on the invoice value of consignments.

The statement reads in part: “Between 2020 and now, the amount charged on cargoes as import duties has risen in geometric proportion from N750,000 to N2 million, again to N3 million and currently, to N3.3 million for 40-ft containers, while 20-ft containers jumped to N1.8 million.

“The Nigerian Customs, on their own, worked out payable import duty now based on “estimated” invoice value of consignment as against the actual invoice value of goods from the country of origin.

“This development is not only bringing untold hardships to importers but is also compounding the pains of the citizens as it dovetails to an astronomical increase in prices of imported goods as the Nigerian Customs estimated invoice value is always far above the actual cost of the imports.

“The indiscriminate estimate of (the) value of goods by Nigerian Customs is adversely affecting the prices of goods in the markets today, both imported and locally-produced as it triggers a chain reaction.

“Even agricultural products are not spared in the chain effect of the price increase.”

The group appealed to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, to prevail on the Customs to suspend the exercise.

“This is to save the Nigerian citizens from further economic hardships as further economic pains that follow such situations could lead to social unrest which our nation doesn’t need now”.

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