The Joint Committee on the Nigeria Customs Service Free Trade Zones Operational Remodeling has submitted a six-point recommendation report to the Acting Comptroller-General of Customs, Managing Director/CEO of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority and the Managing Director/CEO of Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority for implementation.
The Committee was constituted on July 28, 2023 when Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, MD/CEO of NEPZA, his counterpart, Sen. Tijjani Kaura, MD/CEO of OGFZA and Mr Toyin Elegbede, Exeutive-Secretary of the Nigeria Economic Zones Association (NEZA) visited the Acting Controller General of Customs, Mr Adewale Adeniyi to demand the streamlining of customs’ operations within the free zones.
Presenting the report in Abuja, Mr Toyin Elegbede, Chairman of the Committee expressed delight on the confidence reposed on members of the Committee to undertake the assignment.
Mr Elegbede stated that the prompt implementation of the Committee’s report would help reposition the scheme for greater impact on the economy.
According to him, the recommendations include stoppage of irregular invitation of Free Zone Enterprises to the Customs headquarters on procedural matters that should be handled by the Area Controllers, including approval for local purchase, rents and hires.
The committee also prescribed the immediate integration of all Free Zone Enterprises into the IM5 (5900) Cistoms operations portal and to redesign it to resolve the VAT implication for sales to the custom territory.
The recommendation further requested the immediate formulation of SOPs and Procedure Codes for both Intra and Inter Zone Sales, Imports of vehicles, capital goods, spare parts, equipment, furniture and fixtures destined for consumption within the free zone.
Furthermore, the Committee requested the Service to allow the exports of finished and processed goods containing 100 per cent local raw materials with minimum stipulated VAT either mentioned in the Import Prohibition list of customs or in the 44 restricted list of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
In addition, the Committee recommended the immediate creation of Procedure Codes that would kickstart the implementation of the Federal Ministry of Finance Circular No. F182079 dated 22nd December, 2022 and letter Ref. No. HMFBNP/NCS/LPG/10/2022 dated 4th October, 2022, respectively on some specific incentives.
The report listed the incentives to include 75 per cent Duty Rebate for approved products in Oil and Gas Free Zones and the exemption of domestic production and sale of LPG from Custom Duty and VAT.
The rest incentives are to comply with regulatory procedures provided in OGFZA and NEPZA Regulations with respect to inspection of free zones containers without the knowledge of Authorities, delay in inspection of cargo, stoppage of cargo in transit and raising query on importation of same as well as posting of customs officers to the free zones without the knowledge of the two Authorities.
Finally, the Committee recommended expeditious harmonization of all the areas of conflict contained in the legal framework of NCS, NEPZA and OGFZA.
The customs boss promised to immediately adopt those recommendations that fell within the operational policy of the service for implementation.
Edited By Matthew Ayoola
Written by: Elizabeth David
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