Clearing Agents Express Concern Over CBN New Price Verification System
In recent times, clearing agents have voiced their opposition to the newly introduced Price Verification System (PVS) by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
They argue that the system not only contradicts existing trade facilitation measures but also complicates the Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) in Nigeria.
Here, we delve into the core concerns raised by the agents and why they are pushing for a rethink of this policy.
Clearing agents play a critical role in Nigeria’s import and export procedures, facilitating the movement of goods in and out of the country.
The new PVS introduced by the CBN is being perceived as a hindrance to their operations, potentially causing delays and duplicated efforts in the process.
Letters of Concern
Leaders in the sector have made their grievances known through formal channels.
Notably, the president of the National Council of Managing Director of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Lucky Amiwero, penned a letter addressing various high-ranking officials including President Bola Tinubu and the CBN acting governor, Folashodun Shonubi.
The letter, which was shared with the media, outlines the perceived legal and procedural flaws of the PVS initiative.
Legal Standing Questioned
In his detailed letter, Amiwero highlighted that the new PVS initiative seemed to violate existing laws governing the valuation of imported goods.
According to him, the introduction of the PVS is not backed by any existing law and disrupts the established trade facilitation methods.
He mentioned specific acts which the PVS contravenes, namely the Customs and Excise Management (Amendment) Act of 2003 and the Nigeria Customs Service Act of 2023.
Amiwero pointed out that the PVS would likely create procedural bottlenecks, duplicating the responsibilities of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and making the import and export processes more cumbersome and lengthy.
He emphasized that the CBN’s primary function is to manage monetary policy, including overseeing exchange rates, not verifying the prices of imported or exported goods.
Global Standards at Risk
Further, the NCMDLCA president warned that the implementation of the PVS could violate global trade agreements. Specifically, he noted that the new verification process contradicts articles of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) established by the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
He stressed that the global community has moved away from benchmarking, a practice which the PVS appears to be reintroducing, thus potentially isolating Nigeria from established global trade practices.
A Call for Reconsideration
Given these concerns, clearing agents are urging the federal government and the CBN to reconsider the introduction of the PVS.
The plea is grounded on the potential for increased complexity in trade processes and conflicts with existing laws and global standards.
They insist that the existing laws provide adequate guidelines for the valuation of goods in Nigeria, making the new PVS unnecessary.
In conclusion, the introduction of the Price Verification System by the CBN has stirred notable discontent among clearing agents in Nigeria.
They fear that if not reviewed, the system will cause extensive procedural delays and conflict with both local laws and international trade agreements.
The ball now seems to be in the court of the federal government and the CBN to respond to these concerns and possibly revisit the policy for the greater good of trade facilitation in the country.