Some palm oil producers in Nigeria, operating under the Plantation Owners Forum of Nigeria (POFON) have registered an objection to the applications made to the federal government by some importers to be given licence to import some oil palm products under the West African Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS), as they claim to grant such an application will destroy local oil palm production.
Emmanuel Ibru and Fatai Afolabi, chairman, and executive secretary, respectively of POFON, said the application requesting for the removal of tax on such importation of crude palm oil, offered undue advantage to the importers if approved, adding that it was capable of destroying the little gains of the local palm oil producers in the country.
One particular application requesting to be allowed to import crude palm oil, involved as much as 95,000 metric tonnes (MT) of crude palm oil, 50,000 MT of Stearin in bulk, 60,000MT of Crude Palm Olein, and 50,000MT of Palm Fatty Acid Distillates under the ETLS.
But Ibru said the promoters of this request were trading agents of the Malaysian Palm Oil Board and that this activity was targeted at destroying Nigeria’s oil palm industry.
He condemned such an application describing it as both scandalous and offensive to the collective sensibilities of local palm oil producers – both estates and smallholders, and the government.
He said: “From the local producers’ angle, it has the potential to cripple the rising wave of investment currently being witnessed in the expansions of plantations and processing facilities, aimed at achieving self-sufficiency in palm oil production in the short to medium terms.
“And on the side of government, the proposition amounts to an affront on the Agricultural Production Policy (APP), and the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) championed as the panacea to the economic development of the nation,” he said.
POFON said it was aware that there was a recent policy decision by Malaysia to remove the export tax on crude palm oil, and refined products, and that some Nigerian traders are stockpiling these products in neighbouring West African countries so as to re-import or smuggle same into Nigeria using ETLS cover.
“For the avoidance of doubt, importation of crude palm oil (CPO) attracts a tariff of 35 percent – 10 per cent duty plus 25 percent levy.
However, other refined vegetable oil products including Olein, Stearin, Crude Palm Olein, and Palm Fatty Acid Distillates are on the import prohibition list,” the Forum stated, stressing that these were the same products for which import applications have been made to the government.
“We are, therefore, making this timely call on the Honourable Ministers of Agriculture, and Finance, to intervene and save the situation from degenerating beyond redemption,” the Forum further stressed.
Plantation owners have been encouraged by the spirit and doggedness of the APP and ERGP and have embarked on capacity expansion, including replanting of old stock, massive new planting, expansion of processing facilities, renewable energy and others, to ensure steady growth in the oil palm industry and these gains face the risk of being wiped out if this situation of dumping is not addressed, they explained.
POFON is a body of a large plantation and industrial palm oil and rubber producers with Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc, Presco Plc, PZ-Wilmar, Siat Nigeria Limited, JB Farms, Aden River Estate, IMC, and Agripalm (Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc) as members.
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