The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), has advised the Federal Government to review its planned policy on importation of rice.
This advice is contained in a letter dated Dec. 27 and addressed to President Goodluck Jonathan.
The letter, signed by the union’s President General, Mr Anthony Nted and the General Secretary, Mr Aham Ubani, said the review would also reduce smuggling of the commodity.
NAN reports that the Government recently announced plan to stop the importation of rice by 2015 as part of efforts to ensure sufficiency in local production.
The union said that many vessels conveying rice to Nigerian ports had been diverted to ports of neighbouring countries during the festive season due to the announcement.
“The policy on importation of rice has made it difficult for genuine rice importers to bring in their products through our ports.
“The effect is that revenue accruing to the nation is lost to neighbouring countries and some Nigerians who genuinely work in the ports are also denied their livelihood’’, MWUN said.
The workers said that they were excited by the Federal Government’s desire to make the country self-sufficient and less import-dependent but stressed that adequate plan must be put in place.
The union said that due to the announcement, smuggling had increased and poor quality of rice had found their way into the markets as they were not controlled.
The workers said that inferior rice was not fit for human consumption because of its health implication and effects on the economy.
The union said the new tariff and levies on vehicles were too hasty as they would have negative implication on jobs and revenue.
The workers said that 95 per cent of Nigerians who worked in Roll On/Roll Off (RORO) terminal were specifically meant to handle imports and exports of vehicles.
The union advised government to create the enabling environment for vehicles to either be manufactured or assembled in Nigeria.
“There should be local production of vehicles spare parts, steady power supply and necessary infrastructure’’, MWUN said
The union contended that the policy, if reviewed, would enhance vehicle clearance at the ports and create jobs for maritime workers.
The Seaports Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) added its voice, urging the Federal Government to review the policy on rice imports in the interest of the nation’s economy.
The spokesman for STOAN, Mr Bolaji Akinola, said Nigeria was losing N1billion daily to the subsisting policy on rice importation and the attendant high level smuggling.
“Before Jan. 2013, rice importers paid 60 per cent duty, but when duty was increased to 110 per cent, importers shuned Nigerian ports for neighbouring countries’’’, Akinola said.
He said that vessels bearing rice had been going to neighouring ports where they were paying far less duty and the smugglers ended up bringing the same rice into the country illegally,
Akinola said the announcement had affected the revenue of the Apapa Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS). (NAN)
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