27 January 2014

Nigeria: 'Waivers Costing Nigeria Billions of Naira, Job Opportunities'

The granting of waivers to foreign companies by the federal government leading to a loss of billions of naira and millions of jobs, the Managing Director of Nigeria Gas and Steel Limited, Hasib Moukarim has said.

The industrialist said it may remain a pipe dream for the government to meet its revenue targets if the issue of waiver and concession given to importers of finished products is not stopped, stressing the waivers is depleting the government earnings while enriching a few companies abroad.

Moukarim, who is a member of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, (MAN,) spoke against the backdrop of the statement credited to the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, Alhaji Diko Inde Abdulahi, that the Customs Service intends to generate about N1.2 trillion in 2014. He said for the Customs Service to achieve its target, the Federal Ministry of Finance, the Budget Office and the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment must co-operate fully and assist in that regard.  MAN, often champions and defends the interests of local manufacturers against government unfavourable policies or unfair competition from foreign companies.  And Moukarin said: "When finished goods are brought into the country duty free, we are directly creating employment for foreign workers of the foreign company because such goods imported with waivers will become cheaper than the locally produced goods and this will escalate the demand and sales of the foreign manufacturers."

He said by given waivers to foreign companies, locally produced goods become more expensive and demand for them shrinks, noting this threatens the survival of Nigerian-based companies and leads to retrenchment.

"This type of scenario has forced many companies to retrench substantial percentage of work forces with the consequence of worsening the unemployment situation," he said. > Moukarim suggested that for waiver or concession to be given to any applicant thorough investigations must be carried out by the Federal ministries of Finance as well as Trade and Investment to verify the authenticity of the items being brought in at virtually no cost.

"The relevant sector of MAN, should be contacted for their expert opinion on the issue. Also professionals like Quantity Surveyors and Civil Engineers should be contacted for their expert opinion to determine the actual materials needed for the project in question," Moukarim said.

He advised that waivers or concession not be on imported goods that have local substitute and are produced in Nigeria.  "If all the stakeholders in the economy are ready to cooperate fully with the Customs Service, it is my candid opinion that they could surpass their projected revenue, otherwise their projections may be wishful thinking," Moukarim said.

Nigerian manufacturers had complained in the past that Chinese companies have been abusing waivers by importing more than what is needed for their projects and flooding the markets with the surplus, thereby killing local manufacturers.

Chinese companies have been obtaining series of waivers from the Federal Government to build airports, roads and other projects, but end up importing more products than they need, the manufacturers say. than they need, the manufacturers say.

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