The South East Amalgamated Markets Traders Association (SEAMATA), has criticised and rejected the recent “astronomical and indiscriminate ”increment in the import duty on cargoes charged by Nigerian Customs.
SEAMATA is the umbrella union of traders in all the markets in the South-East Geo-political Zone and traders of South-East extraction doing business across the states in the Federation and in Diaspora.
This is contained in a statement, jointly signed by SEAMATA’s President General, Chief Gozie Akudolu, and Secretary General, Mr Alex Okwudiri, in Enugu on Monday.
It said that the Nigerian Customs introduced a method of working out import duty payment on goods and set out a particular minimum amount payable for each 40-ft container.
The statement noted that items with the least percentage tariff of 5 per cent are not even spared.
According to the statement, current import duties are no longer calculated based on invoice value of consignments.
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The statement reads in part: “Between 2020 and now, the amount charged on cargoes as import duties has risen in geometric proportion from N750,000 to N2 million, again to N3 million and currently, to N3.3 million for 40-ft containers; while 20-ft containers jumped to N1.8 million.
“The Nigerian Customs, on their own, worked out payable import duty now based on “estimated” invoice value of consignment as against the actual invoice value of goods from the country of origin.
“This development is not only bringing untold hardships to importers but is also compounding the pains of the citizens as it dovetails to astronomical increase in prices of imported goods as the Nigerian Customs estimated invoice value is always far above the actual cost of the imports.
“The indiscriminate estimate of value of goods by Nigerian Customs is adversely affecting the prices of goods in the markets today, both imported and locally-produced as it triggers a chain reaction.
“Even agricultural products are not spared in the chain effect of the price increase.
“In the general meeting held in Onitsha on Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021, the traders resolved to condemn and reject the increment.
“We are appealing to the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to prevail on the Nigerian Customs to, as a matter of urgency, suspend the exercise.
“This is to save the Nigerian citizens from further economic hardships as further economic pains that follow such situations could lead to social unrest which our nation doesn’t need now”.
The statement also prayed and expects that the appeal of the traders would be favourably considered
A yam seller, Mrs Agnes Onyeabor, says she and her colleagues spent more than N500,000 to ferry a truck-load of yam tubers from Benue to Enugu.
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Onyeabor claimed that the half a million naira spent comprised market levies, transportation cost and money paid to youths, loaders and the one used to “settle“ security men.