FG bows to pressure, relaxes import palletisation policy
Relief at the weekend came the way of importers in Nigeria, as the Federal Government announced that it has relaxed its new cargo import policy on palletisation, and therefore urged all stakeholders including all importers to strictly comply with international standards and stacking prescription by the original manufacturers of products imported into the country.
This was contained in a statement issued on Sunday in Abuja by the Federal Ministry of Finance, saying that the followed a series of complaints, petitions and requests received from the trading public in respect of the palletisation policy contained in the 2017 revised import guidelines to further strengthen the ease of doing business drive.
The statement signed by the Director in charge of Home Finance, Olubunmi Siyanbola, on behalf of the Minister for Finance, Kemi Adeosun, reads in part: “All container cargoes coming into Nigeria should comply with international standards for packing/stuffing and loading into containers; and specific packing and stacking standards prescribed by the original manufacturer of the product.
“Dead-pile loading, or loading without pallets of containerised cargoes, is acceptable provided it conforms to the criteria outlined above.
“With the exception of used automobiles and heavy machinery, any loose packed new or used items without manufacturers’ loading and packing prescriptions should be packed in crates or cartons atop pallets accordingly.”
Recall that the reviewed guideline states that all containerised cargoes should be loaded neatly in a manner that will promote safety in handling and facilitate speedy examination and clearance at the ports by the Nigeria Customs Service NCS.
The minister however warned importers and other members of the trading public that failure to comply with the provisions designed for seamless implementation of the palletisation policy, the Nigeria Customs Service will not hesitate to invoke sanctions as prescribed in the Addendum to the 2017 revised import guidelines issued by the Federal Ministry of Finance.
The statement also gave a grace period of March 31, 2018 for exemption from palletisation policy of goods for which Form “M” had already been established prior to the effective date of January 1,2018 for full implementation of the policy, remained in force.
Meanwhile, stakeholders have been reacting to the review of the policy, describing it as a right step in the right direction.
A Customs licensed clearing agent, Mike Nwaokeafor, who spoke in a telephone interview, however said that the most pragmatic way to resolve the issue of palletisation was for the government to fix the various scanners inherited by Customs from the service providers after the takeover of the Destination Inspection Scheme.
According to him, the singular motive behind the palletisation policy was to make it easier for Customs to carryout 100 per cent physical examination on all containerised imports into the country, which he described as archaic and out of tune with current global practice.
He argued that in addition to causing delays, the palletisation policy would further increase the shipment of cargo per unit into the country, which would be passed down to the final consumers of the cargo with the attendant inflationary trends.