26 February 2017, Sweetcrude, Lagos — THE Nigerian government may have decided to delay implementation of its policy on the ban on importation of vehicles through land borders across the country as stakeholders protest on the issue may be receiving attention.
In response to a petition written by the National Council of Managing Director of Licensed Customs Agents, (NCMDLCA) asking the government to extend the period before implementing the policy, Mr. Ibrahim Abdul, an Assistant Director in the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation said that the authority was considering the extension.
In the letter with reference number ECD/P/251/T/111/232 and dated 25th January 2017, Abdul said the issue of extension has been forwarded to both the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Nigeria Customs Service.
Part of the letter reads “I am directed to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated 12th of January, 2017 in respect of the above subject and inform you that the issues raised therein have been forwarded to the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Nigeria Customs Service for consideration and necessary action”.
It would be recalled that the National Council of Managing Director of Licensed Customs Agents, had written to the Presidency saying that the ban of vehicles through land borders was against international trade laws.
In a petition, the council said that the laws of the World Trade Organisation, WTO, stipulates that trade regulations and amendments with regards to restriction and reversal of Fiscal Policy on Trade, must be subject to process of consultation by trading public and transparency in the timing, so as to accommodate the challenges that may be associated with the directive/regulation.
The convention according to the Council also stipulates that each contracting party shall provide opportunities and an appropriate time period to traders and other interested parties to comment on the proposed introduction or amendment of laws and regulations of general application related to the movement, release, and restriction of transit goods.
He also said that the restriction of vehicles through the land borders came at a very short notice, which contravenes the convention and global best practice on reasonable information across the international community, carrier, and shippers, traders etc., that are directly affected by the decision.
He explained that vehicles held up at the borders are mostly legitimate goods that are legally processed from the land borders as authorised by the Federal Government under the Federal Government import regime, and for which an import duty is assessed and paid into Federal Government account legally. He said that grace period is given to importers and exporters due to challenges associated with the restrictions and structural changes that affect trade.