FG to suspend import duties on food and drugs

The Federal Government (FG) may be preparing to suspend import duties on staple food items, drugs, and other essential goods for an initial six-month period as a strategy to curb inflation.

This initiative is outlined in an upcoming Executive Order titled “Inflation Reduction and Price Stability (Fiscal Policy Measures) Order 2024.” Although the document, reviewed by our correspondent, lacks the President’s signature, it was slated for signing in April.

Additionally, the document outlines plans to waive levies on fertilizers, poultry feed, flour, and grains.

The executive order will mandate the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria to devise a plan for offering low-interest loans to the agriculture, pharmaceutical, and manufacturing sectors.

“The import duty and other tariffs are to be suspended on the following for six months: Staple food items; Raw materials and other direct inputs used for manufacturing: Inputs for agriculture production including fertilisers, seedlings, and chemicals, Pharmaceutical products, Poultry feeds, flour and grains,” the document read in part.

The president is also likely to suspend the Value-Added Tax on Automotive Gas Oil, some basic food items and semi-processed staple food items such as noodles and pasta, raw-material inputs for the manufacture of food items, electricity and public transportation, as well as agricultural inputs and produce and pharmaceutical products for the rest of the year.

“Suspension of Specific Taxes and Levies: For six months, the order suspends various taxes and levies, such as road haulage tax and other transportation-related charges; fees on bicycles, trucks, canoes, wheelbarrows, and carts; business premises registration; taxes and levies on shops, kiosks, and markets; animal trade and produce sales tax.”

In its Accelerated Stabilisation and Advancement Plan report, the government is considering the importation of paddy rice into the country as well as maize.

The ASAP report recommended an executive order on the importation of paddy rice to millers to stem the growing tide of food inflation across the country.

The document also recommends the following: Import duty & VAT suspension on specified items including importation of paddy rice by millers and import duty exchange rate peg

Meanwhile, the proposed plan by the federal government conflicts with earlier statements by Tinubu on food imports earlier this year.

Tinunu at an event with state chairpersons of the All Progressive Congress said his administration would not allow the importation of food but rather turn the lack in the country into abundance.

“Fertilisers are being supplied to farmers as we speak. Agriculture and economic diversification provide the answers to our problems.

“We will not continue to import food. We know how to turn lack into abundance, and the world will watch us do it again,’’ he said.


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