BY DIKACHI ELEMBA
The Basic Metal, Iron and Steel and Fabricated Metal Products group, a vital sectoral group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), has been rattled by what has been described as an alarming uncontrollable smuggling of substandard galvanised and pre-painted roofing sheets, including aluminium roofing sheets, into Nigeria by traders.
The sectoral group is also concerned about the misclassification of some items against the specified HS Codes as well as the proper tariffs as stipulated in the fiscal policy measures by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), including the unrestricted supply of pipes, nails and other still products from the Free Trade Zones (FTZs) in China, at what it says is “at a ridiculously low price to the Customs territory.”
The group has also pointed accusing fingers and blame at the concerned authorities of the Nigerian government for their unwillingness to complete the lingering construction of the Ajaokuta Iron and Steel Company, which if completed, and production begun, could have helped to curtail the sharp practices from business men who take pride in these sharp deals.
The group also decried the importation of what it called “Cold Rolled Coils/Sheets and Galvanised Iron Sheets under the wrong declaration of HS Code 7208” to help the importers attract what it said is zero percent duty rate.
Acting on the complaints of the sectoral group of MAN, the Presidential Committee on Trade Malpractices (PCTM) was said to have embarked on investigative missions which took the Committee to the Guangdong FTZ and they visited the Panda Industries FZE as well as H & C Steel Industry FZE and the Apapa Port, in Lagos.
It was found that both companies in China were duly registered in Nigeria with the Nigeria Export Processing Zone Authority (NEPZA) to produce different types of steel products like the galvanised roofing sheets and pipes meant for export but these products find their way into the Nigeria Customs Service territory.
It was also found, when the PCTM visited the Apapa Port, where they inspected the imported galvanised roofing sheets based on the alleged importation of the products under the guise of pallets which were described as raw materials for the manufacturing of zinc. As a result, some decisions were said to have been taken to forestall the smuggling and to ensure proper payment of duty charges on products from Guangdong FTZs to Nigerian local markets.