By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Federal Ministry of Finance has announced an automation of the processes and procedures for granting of import duty waivers for companies and Non Governmental Organisations (NGO) even as it announced that the new process takes effect from March 1st 2020.
Speaking at a stakeholders meeting organised by the Nigerian Shippers Council in Lagos yesterday, Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed announced that the ministry decided to automate the process in order to remove human contacts, abuses of waivers and ensure efficiency in issuance of Import Duty Exemption Certificates (IDEC)
Zainab who was represented at the meeting by the Principal Administrative Officer, Technical Services Department, Mr Frank Oshanipin also cautioned international Non Governmental Organisations (NGO) to stop donating rice to Nigerian Internally Displaced Persons (IDP’s) and orphanage homes saying that these products can be sourced locally.
Even though textiles and other items are also under outright ban by the ministry, it still allows them into the country for the sake of NGO’s. She however said rice would not be part of such imports.
Zainab said that because of all the delays experienced in getting the IDEC,
“The ministry is working on automating the process of issuing IDEC, that is the new project we are working on and it is likely to commence on 1sth of March 2020”
“The online application is expected to reduce the delays to the barest minimum. Within one week, the process of granting duty exemptions would now be completed”
“If the application does not have merit, the applicant would be contacted immediately” she said
Some of the required items needed for the new procedure are according to her includes; Certificate of Registration with CAC, a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Finance, a certification from the donor of the cargo, and Bill of Laden.
The Minister warned that the life of every import duty exemption is one year under which it must be utilised or the owner would have to come back for revalidation.
She reiterated the the automation process is to enable applicants apply from the comfort of their homes, or from any system that is internet connected, upload their documents, after which it would get processed.
“This is done to introduce efficiency into the process by reducing as much s possible, the human contact to the barest minimum”
“Already, portal have been created; www.idec.gov.ng
Applicants are expected to use this portal for Import duty exemptions”
“One of the challenges we are having is the clear case of abuses which we have experienced, things that are meant for humanitarian use, ends up in the market and are being sold”
“This is why, as a ministry, we have put up some measures, we cannot seat at the desk and award waivers to people without knowing what purpose they are using it for apart from what is written in their letters”
“We are not prepared to do that and this is why we are putting up these measures”
“We want to also encourage International NGO’s that it is not everything that should be donated to Nigerians, there are donations that would not be as beneficial as they seem”
“We know the items are free, but if anyone can be sourced locally we would appreciate it, let our people produce these things, for instance rice, if you want to donate rice to Nigeria, you don’t need to import it from China, create jobs for them over there, only for you to say you want to help IDPs”
She added that sourcing rice, as well as other goods locally in Nigeria would be more beneficial to Nigerians.