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‘Again, CBN raises Customs duty rate to N1,605.82/$1 as Obi warns importers may shun Nigerian ports



The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has again, for the umpteenth time, increased the rate for Customs duty exchange to N1,605.82/$1.

This development is coming less than five days after it marginally reduced the Customs Exchange rate from N1515.48 to N1472.756\$1

The rate, which has already been reflected on the Customs portal today, February 21st, 2024, has further dampened the hope of the despondent customs brokers and their importers that the Apex bank had finally eased its foot on the pedal.

This is coming on the heels of the call by the National Assembly for caution in the increase of customs duty exchange rate.

Customs brokers have lamented that the incessant increases have impacted negatively on their businesses as well as trade volume, as importers have abandoned their goods at the ports while others have diverted their cargoes to the ports of neighboring countries.

The apex bank has increased the customs duty exchange rate more than five times in one month this year.

Meanwhile, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, has asked the Federal Government to end the incessant increase in duty charges by the customs.

Obi made this call in a statement via his verified X (formerly Twitter) handle on Wednesday.

The Labour Party leader said the inconsistency in duty charges is affecting the general business atmosphere in the country.

He warned that if this situation is not corrected, importers in the country may resort to using the ports of nearby countries, a situation that he noted will leave the Nigerian ports underproductive and further deepen the economy into a worse situation as a result of loss of revenue.

Obi said, “I wish to urgently call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to end the inconsistency in duty charges as it is affecting the general business atmosphere in the country.

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“The federal government should stop the arbitrary and ever-increasing customs duties as it is now negatively impacting businesses and the cost of items, and this portends a huge danger to the economy.

“A situation where at the point of initiating importation, Form M and other documents related to importation are based on a particular rate of exchange, for example, N1000 to $1, being the prevailing exchange rate at the time which the importer of goods was used to calculate the entire process, from the import initiation to receipt of goods in his warehouse.

“Then suddenly when the goods arrive in Nigeria, and duties are calculated at different rates, say N1400 to $1, it becomes a serious business challenge that results in business losses.

“Worse still, it directly fuels the inflationary spike which is the basis of increasing cost of goods and living. Such arbitrary charges will obviously lead to further closure of businesses, and attendant job losses.

“This is because at the time of the initiation of the business, calculations, including duties, have been made based on the prevailing exchange rate, and the prevailing market prices.

“If this situation is not corrected, our importers may resort to using ports of nearby countries, a situation that will leave our ports under-productive, and further deepen our economy into a worse situation as a result of loss of revenue.”

By Babajide Okeowo

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