President Muhammadu Buhari (NSC)

President Muhammadu Buhari is to review government’s recent decision to lift the ban on the importation of textile products into the country.

A highly placed government official who spoke on the matter on condition of anonymity disclosed that the Nigeria Customs Service (NSC) which announced the decision recently has been asked to explain the rationale behind the decision.

According to the official, the decision to unban the importation of textiles was made in the final weeks of the last administration which sent a directive to the Nigeria Customs Service conveying government’s decision on the matter.

The source argued that due to the implications of flooding the markets with cheap textile products from Asian countries, a move which could kill off the already moribund local textile industry and exacerbate unemployment, the government would soon reverse the policy.

Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko, the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, (NCS) first made the disclosure that the Federal Government has lifted the embargo on the importation of textile materials into the country. He confirmed it in Lagos when speaking at the official launching of the implementation of Economic Community of West Africa States, (ECOWAS), Common External Tariff, (CET). He said that the items were removed from the prohibition list in line with the laws guiding the CET regime. “Textile, furniture and others have become dutiable as both commodities have been removed from the Import Prohibition Lists and it is going to be implemented,” said Dikko.

The Customs boss, who was represented by Victor Gbemudu, Assistant Comptroller General, Zone ‘A’, said that importers of these goods are now expected to pay 35 percent duty as agreed by ECOWAS member countries as well as the levy as contained in the Import Adjustment Tax (IAT).

“CET also comes with some adjustments for member countries. There are 97 chapters with the 5,899 tariff headings but every member country is entitled to 3 percent adjustment. “This 3 percent adjustment translates into 177 tariff headings to enable member countries to protect their local industries.”

Gbemudu said these items were banned because the government wanted to protect the local industries involved in the manufacturing of these goods. He also promised that by 2020, there would no longer be any item on the import prohibition list as everything would have been harmonized. He said that the CET is subject to review every five years.

By Pita Ochai

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