By Merit Ibe
Following the recent introduction of the e- evaluator and e-invoicing for import and export by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has expressed the need for establishmemt of an interactive and live customer complaints resolution section within the Trade Monitoring System to address bottlenecks that may occur during transactions.
Commending the electronic initiatives, the Director of General of the Chamber, Dr. Chinyere Almona, said it is expected to facilitate trade transactions, boost revenue through more accurate invoicing and reduce processing time for import and export forms.
As Nigeria transit to a more automated system, Almona noted that there is a need to increase the country’s investment in digital infrastructure to support the innovative digital products that are emerging. “We also encourage the Federal Government to automate more processes to reduce human interface as a way of curtailing corruptive tendencies in our trade chain”.
She opined that the automation drive should also move to port operations where there are still sensitive procedures done manually with attendant cost burdens on importers and exporters.
The DG suggested that consideration should be given to users of the platform that are Small & Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs). We are also concerned about the potential impact of this new guideline on headline inflation.
She called for a deeper stakeholder consultation and collaboration with the organised private sector in developing such initiatives to ensure that implementation is efficient. “Since the trade sector has shown some level of resilience and has become one of the fastest-growing sectors recording a year-on-year growth rate of 11.90 percent in the third quarter of 2021 and a contribution of 14.93 percent to GDP in Q3 of 2021, the government should do more to make the Nigerian trade system more efficient and easier to navigate by all parties.”
This she said will boost trade balance and position Nigeria to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) which is expected to gain some momentum this year.
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The chamber pointed out that the commencement date of February 1 provides only 10 days from the issuance of the guideline, does not give sufficient time for proper transition.
“Issues of legal liability are not clear and dispute resolution mechanisms need to be articulated.
“There is a need to clarify if the subscription fee of $350 (US Dollars), is to be paid in Naira equivalence or foreign currency and if in US Dollars, whether affected users will be allowed to source the Dollars through the CBN.
“The 2.5 percent around the vertical prices appears stringent and should be reviewed to about 5 percent given that discriminatory pricing may be a factor.
“The exemption of imports worth $10,000 appears too low that no import will effectively be exempted.
“There should be sufficient transparency and governance around the CBN-appointed agents and authorised dealer banks to ensure adequate independence and supervision.