The Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE) has appealed to the Federal Government to intervene in addressing what it described as conflict and contradictions in the trade policy space, especially as it relates to the import prohibition list and the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) forex exclusion list.
According to the CPPE, the lists are conflicting and disrupting trade, as well as present an untidy situation in which the country appears to have two sets of trade policy documents.
CEO of CPPE, Dr. Muda Yusuf, in his comments on the 2022 fiscal policy measures, underscored that the policy conflict between the fiscal and monetary authorities should be addressed.
“It is untidy to have what we can describe as two sets of Trade policy documents. One by the Central Bank of Nigeria, and the other by the Federal Ministry of Finance.
“The presidency should reconcile these two lists to resolve the current policy conflict in our international trade ecosystem and minimize disruption to trade. We should not have a situation where an item that is not prohibited under our fiscal policy and being denied access to Form M by the Central Bank of Nigeria”, he added.
He commended the government for putting in place the new fiscal policy measures to create an industrial sector that is protected and supported for competitiveness.
“While appreciating the intent and objective of the fiscal policy, we recommend that the Fiscal Policy Measures should be released alongside the Finance Act and the Appropriation Act. This would facilitate planning, reduce uncertainty, minimize investment risk and boost investors’ confidence. We propose that the Fiscal Policy should be released effectively from the 1st of January.
“The CPPE commends the grace period of ninety days that was provided for the implementation of the tariff component of fiscal policy. We commend the Finance Ministry for creating this transition window to minimize the shocks of fiscal policy changes on investors”, the CPPE noted.
Similarly, the CPPE expressed concerns about the red tape inherent in getting approvals from the Federal Ministry of Finance for the importation of items with concessionary import duty.
“We would like to see the removal of these bottlenecks. While appreciating the essence of the National list, we would like to propose that access to fiscal incentives should be devoid of bottlenecks and bureaucracy.
“The experience of importers and the business community with seeking approvals from the Ministries before the fiscal incentives can be enjoyed is often fraught with frustrating bureaucracy, bottlenecks, delays and sometimes extortion.
“We, therefore, recommend that once the Fiscal Policy document has been approved by the government, the Nigeria Customs Service should be left to fully implement these policies without further recourse to the Ministry for additional approvals.
“We believe that the Customs is competent enough to interpret the Fiscal Policy and determine eligibility for fiscal incentives. The idea of seeking approval and exemption certificates from the Ministry of Finance or any other Ministry is not consistent with the spirit of the Ease of Doing Business and should therefore be discontinued”, he added.