This Day Newspapers reported on Thursday, May 7, 2020, that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration had given a customs duty waiver on medical supplies.
President Buhari’s Special Assistant on Digital and New Media, Mr. Tolu Ogunlesi, made this disclosure on Thursday on his official Twitter handle. He stated that apart from the customs duty waiver, the president had also ordered the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to implement immediate clearance for all imported healthcare equipment, medical and pharmaceutical supplies from all Nigerian shipping ports.
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In a confirmation to this news, Business Day Newspapers explained that this import waiver is a deliberate measure to help Nigeria’s medical professionals as they engage corona virus in a must-win battle. The Honourable Minister for Finance, Budget and National Planning stated the government would get in touch with other corporate organisations to in order to identify their areas of greatest needs.
The Honourable Minister for Finance, Budget and National Planning stated said the government did not want to announce taxes were being cut down for companies operating in the heath or pharmaceutical industry. She noted that pharmaceutical sub sector would perform better if some sort of policies to help in the fast release of necessary inputs were introduced.
Also on the reopening of Nigeria’s land borders, Tolu Ogunlesi stated a considerable level of understanding with neighbouring countries and that Nigeria required all of those countries to make a firm commitment to abiding with the trade protocols they had previously not respected.
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The honourable minister remarked Nigeria would be providing import duty waivers and other necessary support to air freight cargoes since the supply chains globally had been disrupted since the unfortunate outbreak of the dreaded corona virus and tough lockdown measures some state governments were implementing.
The minister asserted the various measures adopted by the government to simplify the import of some corona virus medical supplies was in tandem with the indicative list put forward by the World Customs Organisation in collaboration with the World Health Organisation and that the indicative list had been sufficiently reviewed.
Also, in addition to the import waiver, The Punch Newspapers remarked that President Muhammadu Buhari had directed the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to expedite the clearing of all imported healthcare equipment, medical and pharmaceutical supplies.
Health Supplies Exempted from Import Duty Waivers
Also, while speaking on certain items which Nigeria had sufficient capacity to produce, the Honourable Minister for Finance Budget and National Planning said some of those items for which Nigeria had adequate capacity to produce included textile face masks, undenatured ethyl alcohol, hydrogen peroxide (medical and disinfectant), hand sanitizers and syringes, with or without needles were completely left out of the list.
She noted most pharmaceutical drugs were currently exempted from import duty and value added tax in tandem with the provisions of the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET) and the First Schedule to the Value-added Tax (VAT) Act, 2007 as they were deemed essential.
The World Health Oganisation and World Customs Organisation had jointly prepared and circulated the indicative list of essential corona virus-related medical supplies and equipment.
The list was specifically-prepared to serve as a guide to governments and customs administrations around the world, with a view to enhancing the smooth importation and clearance of medicines and medical equipment during this challenging time when many countries are battling the deadly corona virus.
The Sun Newspapers opine that apart from the decision that the critical medical supplies be exempted from payment of import duty and VAT for a half a year period with effect from the first day of May, 2020.
Among other things, it was also decided the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) should ensure that these items would always be given an expedited release in conformity with standard operating procedures for the clearance of relief materials.
The Minister strongly believed a measure like this will greatly help in the current interventions toward making essential medical supplies available and that it will also enhance the chances of health care institutions closing the gap in the healthcare infrastructure and supplies in Nigeria.