By Rabiu Sani-Ali
The Federal Government says it has conceded about N1.024 trillion import duty waivers, concessions and grants to drive economic growth in the country in the past three years.
Mrs Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of Finance, Budget and Planning made this known at a one-day sensitisation on Digitisation of Import Duty Exemptions Certitificate (IDEC) on Monday in Kano.
The minister, represented by Shehu Na-Allah Kura, the Kano State Commissioner of Finance said the waivers were granted to businesses and corporate organisations between 2011 and 2015.
Ahmed said: “For the records, between 2011 and 2015; government conceded about 1.024 trillion
through the grant of only four types incentives, namely:
“Import duty waivers, concessions, grants N503.587 billion, Value Added Tax (VAT) waiver N227.789 billion.
“Pioneer status on non-oil companies N73.511 billion and Pioneer Status PPT on oil companies N219.545 billion.”
Ahmed said the government also granted approximately N341.94 billion waivers between Aug. 2017 and Aug. 2019.
She said the basis for providing these incentives was to stimulate economic growth and overall development.
The incentives were not granted based on discretion, they targeted sectors with kinetic capacity for high impact multiplier outcomes on the overall economy.
“Example of such sectors are agriculture, power, cement, solid minerals, utilisation of Nigerian gas, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), modular refineries etc,” she said.
Ahmed said that the implementation of the automated IDEC was critical to the Federal Government’s economic reform programme to promote transparency, accountability and ease of doing business for sustainable development.
“Up till March 2020, we processed the grant of the IDEC incentives manually. Thus, the process was quite cumbersome, tedious, time consuming and it was beset with undue human interface with attendant challenges.
“The automated IDEC portal will deliver benefits online with the ministry’s Strategic Revenue Growth Initiative (SRGI),” Ahmed said.
She said that it would improve revenue profile, block leakages, cut financial losses associated with current duty exemption process and standardisation of waivers.
The automated IDEC, she said would guarantee ease of doing business, ensure effective tracking of fiscal incentives granted, improve process efficiency and accountability by reducing turnaround time from 60 to only three days.
Ahmed urged participants to contribute in the deliberation to generate constructive feedback to facilitate fine tuning the programme.
Alhaji Ahmed Aliyu, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance said about 1,000 certificates were issued since inception of the automated IDEC portal.
Aliyu, represented by Mr Hassan Dodo, the Director Information and Public Relations of the ministry said the certificates were issued to government and private organisations.
The Controller General of Custom, Hameed Alli said the sensitisation exercise was a pragmatic approach, adding that it would serve as testimony for Nigeria’s movement toward an enviable position in trade facilitation and ease of doing business.
Alli, represented by DCC, Lawrence Banye, Commandant, Nigeria Customs Training College, Kano, said the introduction of the e-Customs Project signaled the beginning of the end-to-end automation of NCS services and procedures to ensure total automation of trans-border trade activities.
“Indeed, trade is being revolutionised through modernisation and policies that create enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
“These initiatives are congruent with the provisions of Section 1, Articles 1 to 12 of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in Nigeria is a signatory,” he said.
The C-G restated commitment of the service to engage stakeholders to keep them abreast development on new policies and activities of the service.
The event was attended by representatives of the Manufacturing Association of Nigeria (MAN), processors, corporate bodies and other businesses.