By Steve Agbota, [email protected]
“The The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) e-Invoice and e-Assessors are known to deny “the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement which seeks to ensure the removal of unnecessary barriers to trade.
“The TBT Agreement strongly encourages members to base their measures on international standards as a means of facilitating trade, through its transparency provisions. You will agree with me that the e-invoice will only achieve so-called ‘Commodity Benchmarking’, thereby failing to create a healthy and prosperous environment for trade to flourish,” this was the post of Vice- National Chairman, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents. (ANLCA), Prince Kayode Farinto, before the House Committee on Customs and Excise, Banking and Currency regarding the proposed electronic invoicing by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the calculation of customs duties on imported cargoes.
On January 21, 2022, the CBN issued guidelines for the new e-invoicing (e-invoicing) and e-valuator for exporters and importers. The new policy aimed to determine the exact value of goods leaving the country or otherwise, according to the CBN.
However, the apex bank said the electronic process would replace the paper copy and the invoice must be authenticated by licensed dealer banks.
“As of February 1, 2022, all import and export transactions would require the submission of an authenticated electronic invoice by licensed Concessionaire Banks on Nigeria’s One-Stop Portal – Trade Monitoring System.
“The main purpose of this new regulation is to obtain an accurate value of import and export items in and out of Nigeria… No importer/exporter can make payment to the credit of a foreign supplier unless the e-invoice has been authenticated by licensed dealer banks presented with the relevant document for payments,” the CBN said.
CBN said an annual subscription of $350 will be “billed by vendor authentication on the system.”
Ironically, stakeholders, exporters, importers and manufacturers have labeled the new guidelines for the anti-popular import and export policy.
Daily Sun learned this after the statement; several petitions have flooded the National Assembly as the guidelines continue to spark controversy.
Speaking on the same issue, Farinto told the National Assembly that e-invoices nullify trade facilitation but may impose a product benchmarking regime on Nigeria, leaving it isolated within the trading community. nations. He argued that the CBN, under the amended Act 7 of 2007, misinterprets Section 2 Subsection (ae), where Subsection 2(a) states that the CBN shall enforce monetary stability and prices to address issues affecting importation. related to fiscal policies.
“We must reiterate that the question of fiscal policies and monetary policies is very clear and unambiguous on the responsible agencies. The Federal Ministry of Finance is expected to be responsible for implementing fiscal policies through the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), while the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will implement monetary policies.
“The CBN starts by issuing a Forex prohibition list for more than 80 items, which are not on the import prohibition list and these directives have led to situations where various commercial banks have refused to open Form M for Nigerian traders/importers, with the exception of very few privileged traders who can produce CBN waiver letters. This alone has caused two problems in our import and export documentation” , he added.
However, he said the problem has led to a situation where many importers, out of frustration, have resorted to false import declarations, thus affecting the level of compliance and a reduction in revenue that should be credited to the account. the Federation.
He said that various commercial banks have started to extort innocent importers to apply for waiver approval even when such importers got the forex from the black market, adding that the problem of misrepresentation has now become a norm in the daily lives of traders. people, which affects negative compliance level.
“Additionally, the Central Bank has also introduced a Commodity Price Verification Mechanism (PPVM) to block invoicing or mispricing of goods and services imported into Nigeria. The CBN has ordered all authorized dealers to verify quoted prices before Form M is approved, which is an encroachment on the statutory role of the Nigeria Customs Service. “The World Trade Organization (WTO) General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, Article VII, which was domesticated in Nigeria as Valuation Act 20 of 2003, clearly states how prices can be determined for importation purposes according to six (6) principles which are the transaction value of goods; the transaction value of identical goods; the transaction value of similar goods; the deductive value method; the computed value method and the fallback method.
He suggested that the above evaluation methods should even be used in hierarchical/sequential order, adding that the agreement aims to provide a single system that is fair, uniform and neutral for the valuation of imported goods for customs purposes and the only government agencies that can implement this, is the Nigeria Customs Service as they are signatories of the above convention hence its domestication.
He also said at home that the Commodity Price Verification Mechanism (PPVM), which the CBN intends to introduce, is integrated with the Pre-Arrival Evaluation Report Process Platform ( PAAR) to the customs decision-making center, saying that this method can only be implemented in the pre-shipment inspection (PIA) regime, which has been suspended since 2002, otherwise if it is introduced through the back door.
“It should be noted that neither the CBN nor any designated commercial bank has the knowledge and skills required to carry out the PPVM without resorting to the use of CBN-licensed service providers. It is however obvious that the service providers thus licensed are made to enrich certain cronies and personal interests which are not in the interest of the nation or better, to provide jobs to the boys.
The Central Bank should be aware that even traders and importers are entitled to an advance ruling under Article 3 of the World Trade Organization of November 27, 2014 of the Marrakesh Agreement Amendment. Article 9, sub-paragraph b(1), which states that “the appropriate method or criteria and their application, to be used in determining the customs value on the basis of a particular set of facts, how the verification of the price of the product or the electronic invoice proposal integrate? this condition?” he said.
In his recommendations to the National Assembly, he said the CBN should be advised to focus on its core monetary policy functions and not on fiscal policies, which resulted in misrepresentations on imports .
He said the CBN cannot assess prices as it is the primary function of the Nigeria Customs Service under Customs and Excise Management CEMA C45 2004 LFN and Valuation Act 20 of 2003 which provides for the value of imported goods, which operates primarily based on the Customs Valuation Agreement (CVA).
Automation of the customs process has been a key element of customs reforms and modernization initiatives, among which is electronic invoicing, and it is important for trade facilitation, which has been highlighted by international organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), World Bank, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
He recommended that the Central Bank be mandated to publish the list of forex beneficiaries on a monthly basis and also analyze the list of defaulters, i.e. those who received forex, for import purposes but did not use it for him and among others. .