The Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd), in a recently released statement, has reiterated his support for local manufacturers as a way of improving the national economy.

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The Comptroller General reiterated his support in reaction to a public statement by a lawyer shared on social media where the CGC was alleged to be against the implementation of African Continental Free Trade Area.

He clarified that he was misunderstood on comments made at a recent public hearing in the National Assembly.

The disclosure was made in a press statement by the National Public Relations Officer of the service, Joseph Attah.

In the statement, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd) expressed more preference in the collection of excise duty from local manufacturers than import duty from importers on goods produced outside of the country.

Attah stated in the release that “A write-up by a supposed learned personality on Maritime matters, going viral on social media, unfortunately, misrepresented the CGC’s position on Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement erroneously misinforming the public that the CGC is against the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement/Facilitation because it will affect revenue collection.

“On the contrary, the CGC’s position was in support of increased local production for the nation to benefit from the forthcoming AfCFTA.

He explained the implications of AfCFTA on revenue, stating that all imports from member countries will be duty-free hence the nation must encourage local production and Excise duty rather than Import duty which will drastically drop soon.

“He clearly said, “I would rather collect Excise duty than Import duty because, for every import, you are taking money out”.

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“As clear and emphatic as he was at the public hearing on preference for excise over import. It is hard to understand the reason(s) for this twist and dangerous misrepresentation.

“The author’s attempt to link CG’s comments at the public hearing to issues of scanners, partial border closure and ending with almost recommending single window system as a viable means of growing Customs revenue collection shows a total loss of the understanding of CGC’s presentation.

“He obviously does not know that the amended Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) has not been passed into law and seems not to be aware that NCS is not the procuring agent for new scanners, hence cannot be linked to any amount he quoted in relation to scanners.

“It is almost laughable to appear to recommend a bit of ICT to an organization whose processes are mostly automated and was informing the Senate Committee about the readiness of the Service to commence end to end e-Customs.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the CGC and indeed NCS is not against the implementation of any protocol that Nigeria is a signatory. NCS role is to implement and provide input that might help policy formation in the interest of Nigerians.

“We strongly believe that Nigerians have a right to know the implications of AfCFTA and actions that must be taken to benefit from it and not becoming a dumping ground for other countries’ goods.

Twisting and giving it a different narrative relating to Import duty is not only dangerous but mischievous misrepresentation that does the nation no good.

“NCS, therefore, call on Nigerians to discountenance that misleading piece and focus on what we must do to benefit from AfCFTA” the statement said.