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July 17, 2024

Traders Union Welcomes FG’s Tax Holidays On Maize, Wheat Importation, Urges Caution

By Abdullahi Yusuf

The National Harmonized Traders Union of Nigeria has expressed mixed feelings over the Federal Government’s moves to give Tax Holidays to the Importation of Rice, Maize, Brown Rice, Cowpeas and other food items.

The union said in a statement that the gesture would temporarily cushion the horrible effects of hunger in the land.

It, however, said government should in the implementation of the measure, ensure that it does not harm the nation’s agricultural sector.

“The high prices of commodities in Nigeria today coupled with lack of money have compelled the citizens to welcome any moves to give them some relief,but this should not be a permanent position of the Government,” the union said.

In the statement which was personally signed and issued to newsmen in Kano by the President of the Union, Dr. Bature AbdulAziz,the union reminded the Federal Government that with the current scarcity of foreign exchange,the prices of rice, wheat and other commodities would still be prohibitive,even with the tax holidays put in place.

“For example if one is importing rice from wherever, the exchange rate of the Naira to Dollar does not change, and after the importation, a bag of rice will arrive Nigeria at the rate of over N60,000 and will still reach the end user at the rate of N70,000, so the change in the whole thing would be minimal,” AbdulAziz said.

He said farmers had marvelously done well in irrigation farming this year,and that soon what they produced would flood the markets.

“What the Government should do now is to ensure that everything that would make Nigerian agriculture more prosperous is provided to the farmers as and when due.If the authorities do this, certainly the nation will not need to import food items.

He urged the Government to permit 150-day window for the importation of Paddy Rice, which he said would give job opportunities to Nigerians and reduce the price of rice to around N50,000 per bag.

“If government gives priority to the importation of Paddy Rice, I am sure that many people would be gainfully employed because it will still be processed and its price would be drastically reduced,” the President added.

Recall that the Federal Government had announced the suspension of duties, tariffs and taxes on some essential food items imported through land and sea borders.

The Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Abubakar Kyari, made this known during a press briefing at the National Press Centre, Abuja on Monday.

Kyari disclosed that the listed food items, which include maize, wheat, husked brown rice, and cowpeas, will enjoy a 150-day Duty-Free Import Window.

He added that the move is part of the Presidential Accelerated Stabilization and Advancement Plan, which is aimed at achieving food security and economic stability in the country.

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