By Mohammed Kandi
The Federal Government has proposed a 35 per cent duty for the importation books into the country, even as reading culture amongst the citizens is dying.
The government had initially announced a 20% duty and 30% levy, thereby making importers of books face a huge 50% tariff, but the action was greeted by an uproar, with stakeholders asking the government to revert to 0% duty.
A clearing Agent disclosed that before now, importers of books in the country had been paying a 1% ECOWAS Trade Levy Scheme, which was the cost of the books.
However, a top official of the Federal Ministry of finance confirmed the imposition of the over bloated duty, but said: “I don’t know the actual percentage of the duty being imposed.”
But for nearly five weeks, all effort made to get official confirmation failed as no government official is willing to speak up on the matter.
When contacted, the Spokesperson of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) Wale Adeniyi, on June 8, he said: “We don’t have that information yet. Books enjoy zero% duty. We will have to confirm if anything has changed tomorrow.”
Subsequent efforts to get an update from Adeniyi failed as he did not answer our reporter’s calls to his phone. We then contacted the Special Adviser on Media to the Finance Minister, Paul Nwabuikwu, on July 5, and he pledged to contact the Director-General, Budget Office in the ministry, whom he said is in charge of such matters and revert to us.
But despite the follow ups, Mr Nwabuikwu never got back to us, the latest of which was done through SMS yesterday.