The Federal Government is said to be losing about N1bn on a weekly basis due to the illegal importation of Iron and Steel, the Galvanised Iron and Steel Manufacturers Association has disclosed.
According to the group’s consultant, Obiorah Ifoh, who revealed this at a press briefing in Abuja, there is an urgent need for the re-introduction of pre-shipment inspection in order to check the high occurrence of the importation of the substandard steel products into the country.
“If unchecked, it may also result in a mass lay-off of more than 50,000 direct employees and crystallization of numerous associated systemic risks in the Nigerian steel industry in a country where unemployment is already on the high side,” he said.
Continuing on why the Government should put an end to the importation of iron and steel, Ifoh alleged that there is a cartel of economic saboteurs who import huge volumes of containers every week valued at about $5m which are never captured on the Nigeria Customs Service portal.
He also added that the abandonment of pre-inspection of goods at the point of entry has created ample opportunities for smugglers to flood the Nigerian markets with below standard products, including steel products.
He further disclosed that lack of proper inspection has made the country’s borders and seaports porous, leading to the influx of illegal arms and explosives into the country. Such a development is inimical to national economic development and national security of Nigeria.
Mr Ifoh stated that it appears that the Government’s security and revenue generating agencies have either been overwhelmed or are ignorant of the nefarious activities of the smugglers.
Speaking further on the problem at hand, the association claimed that seven of its members have shut down operations as a result of the activities of illegal importers.
According to Mallam Dahiru Ado-Kurawa, the Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Trade Malpractices, the issue of illegal importation of steel and iron has been on for sometimes now, saying it is now more rampant due to domestic fiscal policies among many others.
“What we have come across recently is that there is misclassification of galvanised roofing sheet in terms of duty code. That is a very technical way of smuggling and quite difficult to prove unless some serious efforts are employed by the already over-stretched Nigeria customs service.”