The South-East Amalgamated Markets Traders Association, on Monday, rejected the recent increase in the import duty on cargoes charged by Nigeria Customs Service.
SEAMATA is the umbrella union of traders in all the markets in the South-East geopolitical zone and traders of South-East extraction across the states in the federation and in the diaspora.
It said the increment was not calculated based on invoice value of consignments and were targeted at crushing Igbo businesses.
SEAMATA, in a statement signed by its President-General and Secretary-General, Chief Gozie Akudolu, and Mr Alex Okwudiri, respectively, said the Customs had introduced a method of working out import duty payment on goods and set out a particular minimum amount payable for each 40ft container but had jettisoned it.
It said, “Between 2020 and now, the amount charged on cargoes as import duties have risen in geometric proportion from N750,000 to N2m, again to N3m and presently, to N3.3m for 40ft containers; while 20ft containers jumped to N1.8m.
“The Nigerian Customs, on their own, work out payable import duty now, based on ‘estimated’ invoice value of consignment as against the actual invoice value of goods from the country of origin.
“This development is not only bringing untold hardships to importers but also compounding the pains of the citizens as it dovetailed to astronomical increase in prices of imported goods as the Nigerian Customs estimated invoice value is always far above the actual cost of the imports.”
It added, “The indiscriminate estimate of value of goods by Nigerian Customs is adversely affecting the prices of goods in the markets today.
“We are appealing to the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to prevail on the Nigerian Customs to, as a matter of urgency, suspend the exercise.
“This is to save the Nigerian citizens from further economic hardships as further economic pains that follow such situations could lead to social unrest, which our nation doesn’t need now.