By DAPO OLAWUNI
For the second time in five months, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has increased the exchange rate for the clearance of Imported items from N361 per dollar, right now to N381 per dollar.
Sources at Nigerian ports confirmed to DAILY TREND NEWS exclusively that the Nigeria Customs Service effected the change late on Friday, and as usual, there was no consultations with the stakeholders that would be affected.
Recall that in April 2020 during COVID-19 Lockdown, the CBN had increased the exchange rate for import duty payment from N326 per dollar to N361.
This latest increase to N381 would no doubt excercerbate the anxiety at the ports because the CBN only recently issued a circular, banning all middle-men in the opening of form M.
Speaking exclusively DAILY TREND NEWS on Sunday, a frontline freight forwarder, Chief Jonathan Owoh said that the increase in exchange rate to N381 to a dollar would put importers and freight forwarders under undue pressure.
He said “On Friday, I accessed entry and it was still the same N361, my Secretary just told me yesterday that they (Customs) increased it late that Friday to N381, this is what is obtainable now, as from Monday, everybody would start seeing it”
“There was no consultation or anything, in their usual way of doing things they just increased it, what it means is that the duty of cargoes will increase, for example, an imported vehicle that should pay 320,000 would pay more than N340,000”
“On the recent issue of form M, the Central Bank of Nigeria has said that we have to be dealing directly with the manufacturers, this would not be possible, the middle men must be there, if you want to buy cargo, you cannot go directly to the manufacturers, somebody has to search it on your behalf”
“The intermediary must be there, there is no way they can wish away the middle man because, you cannot get all you want in a particular company, you source from various places”
“The challenge is that they dont consult stakeholders before making some of these policies, but when they realised they have made a mistake, they would now be trying to find a way to reverse it, and before that time, many things must have gone wrong” he said
Speaking further, he said the latest increase would amount to more demurrage on cargoes inside the port, as many importers would abandon their cargoes inside the port.
“One has to source for money, the goods you are supposed to clear for one week, if you are shut of cash, obviously you must source for cash to clear it, and this would take weeks”
“All the stakeholders meeting we normally hold, they dont make use of the recommendations and outcomes, they just go ahead to implement their mind” he lamented
Also speaking with our correspondent, Vice President of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Dr. Kayode Farinto lamented that it is unfortunate that the present administration is insensitive to plight of the masses.