The Federal Ministry of Finance said due process is always followed in granting import duty waivers to importers, as part of efforts to check corruption and abuses of government’s fiscal incentives.
The Director of Information, Ministry of Finance, Mr Salisu Dambatta, said this on Sunday in Abuja.According to Danbatta, these procedures have been put in place to curb rampart corrupt practices in the economic sector.
The statement is coming after some importers and Non -Governmental Orgnisations (NGOs) criticised the ministry for allegedly refusing to grant import duty waivers in respect of drugs, health commodities and related equipment donated by the Global Fund.
“The Ministry strongly denies that the Minister has refused to grant import duty waivers to some importers and NGOs for drugs and health commodities imported into the country.
“To get an import waiver, an application by the importer must be submitted to the Federal Ministry of Finance through the Federal Ministry of Health with evidence of registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission.
“Also, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) duly signed by the Minister or Minister-of-State, Budget and National Planning between the Donor Agencies, Federal Government of Nigeria and the Recipient-NGOs must be presented alongside a certificate of exemption from tax from the Federal Inland Revenue Service.
“They are expected to also submit a proforma invoice indicating the value of imported items, bill of laden and if the imported items are donated, the NGOs are required to provide the ministry with authenticated letter from the donor agencies,’’ he said.
Dambatta also said additional documentation may also be required where the need arises.He said if any of these processes were not followed, an import duty waiver would not be granted.
He said these rules were put in place because the ministry had in recent times observed the flagrant abuse of the import duty waivers by some NGOs and importers.According to him, they sometimes smuggle other imported items into approved waivers issued for the importation of medical equipment and drug related items.
“The ministry has also observed that some importers and NGOs engage in the sale of imported drug items which are meant to be distributed to the public free after being granted import duty exemption by the government.
“This is in contravention of the provisions of Section 46 of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) of 1958 (as amended).
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Federal Ministry of Finance wishes to state that priority and special attention are always accorded requests for import duty waivers for medical equipment and drugs related items.
“As a matter of fact, 318 concession applications were received and 175 were processed to conclusion from May 1 to November 24, 2017,” he said.
Dambatta reiterated the present administration’s appreciation to Donor Agencies and partner NGOs in the fight against the spread of HIV and AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other deadly diseases.
He, however, said the government would not succumb to cheap blackmail and acts of economic sabotage under the guise of the delivery of health services to the people of Nigeria.