The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has called on the federal government to urgently initiate an independent resolution framework to address issues of valuation and Harmonised System (HS) classification between Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the business community to resuscitate depreciating confidence among investors.
The Chamber made the call following reports of distressing encounters experienced by Nigerian investors in managing disputes with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on matters related to product valuation and harmonised system of product classification.
Muda Yusuf, the LCCI director general noted that the situation was hurting investment and weakening investor’ confidence, adding that importers were subjected to unfair treatment by the customs in the absence of a credible, independent window for dispute settlement with the private sector.
Yusuf bemoaned the present operational arrangement of the Nigerian Customs Service, saying the mechanism was unfair to investors and not consistent with the principles of natural justice. He added that many companies have been compelled to pay outrageous additional charges on imports, thereby distorting their investment plans and projections which are not consistent with the vision to make Nigeria a top investment destination.
He also pointed that the situation was hurting investors across all sectors including; manufacturing, agro-allied, ICT, construction, services and also a deterrent to domestic and foreign investment; thereby creating uncertainty, aggravating investment risk, undermining economic diversification prospects, limiting capacity utilisation, and crushing the scope for job creation.
He said the reality that the Nigeria Customs Service has a weak Trade Facilitation culture and an absence of customer service orientation was hurting investment, frustrating trade, and creating a negative investment sentiment.
“There is a need to ensure a balance between regulatory controls, revenue generation and trade facilitation functions of the Nigerian customs service,” he said.
The LCCI boss stated that a presidential intervention has become inevitable as only an independent appeal mechanism that is implemented within the framework of an executive order could restore the confidence of investors in the international trade process ,especially with the onset of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).