Lagos — Clearing agents operating at the ports have expressed displeasure with the new import duty rate imposed by the Nigeria Customs Service, which rose from N306 to N326 per dollar.
According to the clearing agents, the development will add to the cost of clearing cargoes at the ports and increase prices of goods in the market.
A clearing agent, Dennis Atuokwu, said Customs has already adjusted the exchange rate on their system.
He said: “The exchange rate has just been increased and Customs has put it in their system already. This is going to affect us. We are just notifying our customers because automatically the new exchange rate will add to the cost of import clearance and you know when this happens, it will affect every other sector.
“This is going to be another heavy load for consumers because whatever cost the importers incurs will be transferred to them. It will increase the Cost, Insurance, and Freight (CIF) value of every import. The Federal Government wanted to increase VAT, people resisted it, so they now came with a new exchange rate. I think the government just need money to recover from their election expenses.”
Another clearing agent, Ugochukwu Nnadi, said the increase would fuel the further diversion of Nigeria-bound cargoes to the ports of neighbouring countries, especially Cotonou port.
“This is not the first time government is increasing exchange rate and we are not surprised because already the economy is in bad shape and this will further translate to lower currency value.
“These are some of the policies that make Nigerian importers go to neighbouring countries at the detriment of our own economy because Customs is more interested in revenue than trade facilitation. This may likely reduce importation,” he said.
When contacted, Customs Public Relations Officer, Joseph Attah, said he could not confirm the new exchange rate as he was out of the country.