LAST NOVEMBER, members
of an association dealing on
wood in the country appealed
to the federal government to ban
exportation of wood and wood
products. They were afraid that
exportation of wood and related
products gravely undermines
revenue generation for the
country as well as denied the
teeming population employment
opportunities.
That prayer has been answered.
Early in the week, the
Comptroller General of Customs,
Hammed Ali, directed all area
commands to ensure strict
enforcement of the suspension
on the export of all wood
products including processed,
semi-processed and unprocessed
wood, in compliance with the
notice of suspension from the
Federal Ministry of Environment.
“I am directed by the
Comptroller General of Customs
to convey the immediate
suspension of export of all woods
and wood products until further
notice,” the directive signed by
the Deputy Comptroller General
Tariff & Trade, Iya Umar, on
behalf of the Comptroller General
to area commands stated.
The development may not
be unrelated to the low level of
compliance of the wood exporters
to export only processed wood.
Friday Magazine recalls that in
By Patrick Andrew February, the Tin-Can Command of
the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS
had authorized exportation of only
semi-treated and fully processed
wood products. The command had
then attributed the suspension to
non-compliance with directives on
exportation of wood products.
The Customs Area Comptroller of
the Tin-Can Island Command, Mr.
Yusuf Bashar, who disclosed this
during a meeting with stakeholders,
had to sensitize the trading public
particularly exporters on the need
to ensure that only exportable wood
products are brought in to the port
adding that anything short of what
the law permits will be confiscated.
Bashar also said that the
command had to bring in officials of
the Federal Environment Protection
Agency, FEPA, to assist the Customs
in explaining and showing to
exporters the difference between
treated and untreated wood
products.
According to him, the exports do
not attract any duty adding that
in the light of falling oil price, the
government is trying to encourage
Nigerians to export as much as
they can with a view to earn more
foreign exchange.
“It is an incentive to encourage
export because it is assumed that
money will come to government
based on exportable products from
Nigeria most especially now that
Nigeria is having issue with crude
oil.
“Price per barrel is going down, it
is our major foreign exchange earner
so Nigerians must be encouraged to
export as much lawful products as
possible.
“At a point, we asked ourselves
how we can encourage exports
from our end, we thought that the
best way to do that was to sensitize
the people and tell what exports are
allowed by law.
“We took wood products as
the first item amongst exportable
products because it attracts a lot
of attention. The need for the
campaign became imperative due
to the seeming confusion emanating
from the export of wood products.
“So we met exporters of wood
products, freight forwarders of
wood exporters, our own Customs
personnel and any interested
members of the public and let them
know the categories of wood that
are lawfully exportable” he said.
It seems the freedom to export
some semi-processed wood and
wood products did not yield the
desired revenue and therefore was
actually counter-productive.
However, on Monday, a directive
issued by the Office of the
Comptroller General of the Customs
suspended all forms of exportation
of wood products.
“I am directed by the Comptroller
General of Customs to convey the
immediate suspension of export
of all woods and wood products
until further notice,” the directive
signed for the Comptroller General
Area Command by the Deputy
Comptroller General Tariff & Trade,
Iya Umar, stated.
The latest position simple reechos
the directive of the Area
Controller, Apapa Area command,
Comptroller, Egbudin, who
had bewailed the upsurge of
unprocessed wood exportation
during a sensitization workshop for
exporters in the command.
That area command had in the
past four weeks warned that any
who fails to follow the guidelines for
wood exports, will have their goods
seized pointing out that so far, the
command had made seizures of
25 containers of the unprocessed
woods in the last four weeks.
But there is respite for those that
had exported their products before
the current directive. They will
be allowed to clear their goods as
part of effort to clear the backlog
of consignments which were
affected by the Central Bank of
Nigeria, CBN, forex restriction on
41 items.
Speaking on the suspension of
exportation of wood products,
Emeka Ikechi, who deals on
wood products in Abuja, said
the directive is a welcome
development because it will
reduce scarcity of wood and
wood products in the country.
“I think the ban on exportation
of wood products is a good one.
The ban will make it possible
for us to have enough wood
products instead of exporting the
few that we have thereby creating
unnecessary scarcity.
“A good number of
unemployed youths will have
opportunities to be gainfully
engaged because those trained in
carpentry, upholstery and other
wood related professions will
have enough materials to work
with.
“Nigerians who have undue
hunger for foreign wood
materials will be compelled to
appreciate our products which
are often of high standard and
that will mean more money in
our pockets.
“With the development, undue
high cost of wood for building,
wood products for furniture and
wood related items should reduce
and eventually stabilise,” he said
stressing that strict enforcement
of the suspension would go a
long way to boost the economy.
Adekoya Oluwole shares the
view stressing that unless other
agencies of government support
the directive and ensure that
processed and semi processed
woods are not exported, the
policy will achieve very little.
“There should be open
communication between
the agencies to enforce strict
compliance with the directive.
If the compliance level is high,
there is the likelihood that
exporters of wood products
will adapt and abide by the
policy.”
Following the suspension,
the customs management
has asked importers who had
imported their goods before
the CBN policy to forward
their names to the headquarters
through their area commands.
Comptroller Egbudin said the
intervention of Customs was to
allow CBN approve the Form
‘M’ of the affected importers
to that they can be issued with
PAAR and subsequently take
delivery of their goods.
He said Customs could not
track the names of the affected
importers on its system because
some of them had not made a
declaration.
“There are some consignments
that had come to the port before
the policy was initiated, so we
have been directed to collect the
names of all the importers and
their products and send it to the
headquarters to see how they
can help them so that they can
be issued with PAAR and take
delivery of their goods.”
He added that some of
the importers had got their
consignment before the CBN
policy, but they cannot clear
them because CBN has refused
to approve their Form ‘M’. The
goods have been in the port and
they cannot even clear them.


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