Mayowa Okekale, Abuja
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has expressed support for the decision of the federal government to suspend the issuance of Negotiable Duty Credit Certificate, saying the scheme was abused to the detriment of the Nigerian people.
The speaker reiterated his support for Export Expansion Grant, EEG, as one of the tools that can strengthen the manufacturing sector. He spoke when he received members of the Manufacturing Association of Nigeria (MAN) in his office on Thursday, according to a statement issued by his spokesman, Turaki Hassan.
He further explained that when he he was chairman of the House Committee on Customs, he was privy to a lot of sharp practices in the use of Negotiable Duty Certificate which led to loss of revenue to the federal government. “On the issue of the Export Expansion Grant, EEG, we will look into that but the issue of the Negotiable Duty Credit Certificate, when I was chairman of Customs Committee, to be candid, I queried some aspects of the practice which I sincerely believed were not in the best interest of the nation,” he said.
Going further, he added: “My thinking was if that instrument was meant to help a particular manufacturer, why do you make it negotiable? Why is it that such an instrument can be negotiated by a third party and the value claimed by a third party? Why is it not just given to a dedicated manufacturer who must use it? “And we all know that there were some foreign nationals who because they knew some people in government got these negotiable instruments and they negotiated them to third parties who were not manufacturers, and they were using it to pay Customs duty.
“They were importers of maybe rice, sugar and other commodities, but when you check the import duties, they were netting them off against negotiable import duties certificate because it was negotiated by so called manufacturers who were not truly manufacturers but had negotiated it to them.”
Dogara said adjustments could be made to the conditions for issuing the facility, explaining that, “our thinking is that if this scheme must continue, then we must use it to pay for raw material that you are utilising in your factory in Nigeria.
“It must not be negotiated. And I guess that is the aspect of the practice that led to what we are talking about, government deciding to take another look at it because we were losing so much money through payments made by this instrument.”
The Speaker also expressed support for access to ease credit to manufacturers, while promising that the House will pass legislation that will promote businesses in Nigeria, address double taxation issues, and other related matters. He also promised that the legislature will hold ministers accountable for delivering on promises made by the government.
Said he: “We believe that for democracy itself to survive, it must produce the good for the people. If it doesn’t work with the people, then nothing distinguishes democracy from any other forms of government. “We believe that wherever you find a functional democracy, the manufacturing base will be very strong because that is the engine of growth. That is the sector that employs people, when you talk about mass employment.
“Not only employment, it engenders innovation and a sort of national pride to say wherever you travel that this is a made in Nigeria good. You feel a sense of attainment and pride, rather than importing things and turning our country into a dumping ground.”
Earlier, the president of MAN, Dr. Frank Udemba Jacobs, sought intervention from the speaker on the suspension of EEGs and Negotiable Duty Credit Certificate of some of its members, increased funding of the manufacturing sector, improved infrastructure, amendment of the Local Content Act to expand its product base and double taxation.