The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has canvassed the setting up of a dispute resolution framework to reconcile disagreements over issuance of valuation queries of imported goods by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
The Chamber in a communiqué issued at the end of its Council meeting in Lagos, pointed out that in most cases, valuation queries issued by the NCS had no correlation with global prices and therefore advocated the need for a credible framework to resolve disputes arising from the value of invoice on imports.
The communiqué stated further that prices varied across different regions of the world but that there is no dispute resolution framework to ensure timely resolution of such disputes.
The Chamber stated further: “There should be an independent dispute resolution mechanism in place that could resolve valuation disputes within 48 hours because of the cost implications to importers of the delays. These include demurrage, penalties, interest costs on loans etc.
“The current arrangement where appeals are made to the Customs headquarters is not in consonance with the principle of natural justice. The Nigeria Customs should not be a judge in its own case.
“In many of the instances, the actions of the NCS have no bearing with these global prices. Prices vary across different regions of the world. Regrettably there is no dependable dispute resolution framework in place to ensure speedy resolution of such disputes,” the communiqué added.
On what it considered the way forward, the organized private sector group advised the Presidency, Minister of Finance and Comptroller-General of Customs to frontally tackle the problems posed by the fiscal regime by setting up an independent body to dispassionately and speedily resolve the numerous cases of indiscriminate valuation queries.
The Chamber also pointed out that the non-constitution of the boards of some key MDAs critical to the smooth functioning of the economy remained an issue that must be immediately looked into by the Executive and Legislative arms of government.
For instance, it recalled that it was the non-confirmation of the newly appointed MPC members by the Senate that stalled the first Monetary Policy Committee’s (MPC’s) meeting this year which was scheduled for 22 – 23rd January of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
This is even as the LCCI also cited similar cases in NAICOM and PENCOM, noting that the prolonged non-constitution of their boards was already taking huge toll on the economy.
The OPS group therefore charged the Presidency and the National Assembly to put the interest of the economy above their differences and constitute the boards of all MDAs without further delay.