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Stakeholders devastated as CBN raises import duty rate by another 4.4% in 24 hours

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By Abiodun OBA

 

The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has Saturday morning once again jerked up the rate to N1, 413.62 barely 24 hours when it increased the Customs exchange rate to N1, 356.883 per dollar on Friday.

An angry stakeholder who reacted to the latest increase said the development has portrayed the present government as insensitive.

He said: “The whole situation has given away this government as insensitive to the plight of Nigerians.

“While we are still discussing the implications of Friday’s increase and how it is going to impact the lives of the ordinary Nigerians, this government went ahead to slam yet another increase.

“I don’t know why a government can be so cruel and insensitive the irate freight forwarder lamented.”

The new rate has since been reflected on the Customs trade portal. The increase was vehemently opposed by importers and Customs brokers when it first increased Customs import duty rate by 43 percent on Friday.

Describing the increase as devastating, the Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for the Promotion for Private Enterprise, CPPE, Dr. Muda Yusuf said, “The drastic upward review of the exchange rate for the computation of import duty from N952 to N1,413.62 would have a negative effect on businesses across all sectors. This is a whopping 42.5% increase.  This is like the last straw”.

He stated that businesses are yet to recover from the shocks of the new round of currency devaluation resulting from the sudden unification of the exchange rate which has driven the official exchange rate to about N1400.

He said: “It is double jeopardy for the investors across all sectors especially those in the real sector. This action will further fuel inflation as production and operating costs get escalated. The vulnerable segments of the population will be further impoverished as cost push inflation gets exacerbated.

“CPPE appeals to the CBN to reverse this rate hike in the interest of the already impoverished segments of our society and the numerous businesses that are already on the verge of collapse.

“The shocks, disruptions and dislocations are of immense proportions. It is even worse that the rates take immediate effect. This is a policy action that is difficult to justify, especially in the context of the multidimensional headwinds that businesses are grappling with.

“The CPPE  recommends that, going forward, the determination of the exchange rate for import duty computation should be treated as a fiscal policy matter and located within the remit of the fiscal authorities which is the finance ministry. This is necessary for proper alignment with extant fiscal policies.

Alhaji Tanko Ibrahim, the National Coordinator of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF)  told our reporter that the apex bank is not yet done with its fiddling with the Customs exchange rate as it plans to increase it again soon to N1500 per dollar.

“I heard from the grapevine that the CBN plans to push the Customs exchange rate to as high as N1,500 per dollar. That is their target and they are going to do it soon,” he claimed.

The agitated stakeholders were still discussing the impact of Friday’s increase before they were once again hit by yet another hike which commentators feared may lead to the collapse of the import business and difficulty of the Nigeria Customs Service to meet its N5.1 trillion revenue target for 2024.

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