Sunday, 13 December 2015

CHECKMATING INFLUX OF FAKE AND SUBSTANDARD GOODS INTO NIGERIA

Dr. Joseph Odumodu, DG/CEO, SON
The seeming uncontrolled influx of fake and substandard products ranging from pharmaceuticals, consumables, equipment, electrical products and other household goods has remained a major social and economic problem facing the Nigerian nation. This has no doubt constituted a major course for concern not only to the government but also the entire citizenry.
                   
This is even more disturbing given the array of security agencies operating at the seaports, airports and land borders, whose operative participate in the examination of these substandard and fake products, which come into the country undetected. For instance, Nigeria’s official trade statistics as at 2011 showed that the influx of substandard and fake imported was more than 80 per cent as against the 20 per cent obtained in some developed and developing economies.

In addition to the health hazards brought about by this rather ugly development, it has also worked against the real sector, which is the engine of growth for any economy. It was in view of this that the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) said recently that its members have over the years been subjected to unfair competition due to this seeming uncontrolled influx of fake and substandard goods into the country.

This ugly situation has compelled manufacturing firms operating in the country to shut down their operations due to the general harsh operating environment characterised by poor infrastructure and high interest rates, which are in double digits, among several others.

The development, which has led to loss of jobs, has been further worsened by the influx of cheap substandard products manufactured mostly in Asia. President of the association, Mr. Frank Jacobs, who spoke in Lagos recently, said manufacturers in the country have been at the receiving due to this unending trend in the country.

“Apart from the poor infrastructural base and the lack of access to cheap funds, the greatest challenge faced by the local manufacturers remains the influx of these fake and substandard products, which are cheaper compared to locally manufactured ones”, he lamented.

According to him, many of such foreign made goods, which find their way into the Nigerian market are produced under better economic conditions characterised by first class infrastructure and very cheap funds with single digit interest rates, which makes it unfair for them to compete with locally made ones.

Worried by this trend, the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN has issued fresh guidelines partly designed to check this trend. For instance, the apex bank set a December 1, 2015 deadline for the full takeoff of all Standard Organisation’s electronic certificates for the processing and clearing of all products regulated by the organisation.

Under the new policy directive entitled: ‘Re-Integration of SON’s e-certificates into the Nigeria Integrated Customs Information System’, all authorised dealers and the general public has been informed that the SON’s e-certificates (e-product certificate and SONCAP certificates have been deployed on the NICIS with effect from September 10, 2015.

A Deputy Director in the Trade and Exchange Department of the apex, Mr. J.O.Ajewole, importers and other dealers in the nation’s supply chain are expected to attach the SON’s electronic product certification to the documentations in the Form ‘M’ processes in relation to all products regulated by the apex standards bureau.

The new policy, which took effect September 10, 2015, which also marked the integration of the SON’s electronic certificates into the NICIS platform, also directs that henceforth, only electronic SONCAP certificate would accepted for the processing of customs clearance of imported regulated products.

Mr. Ajewole however said that the integration of the agency’s certificate platforms into the NICIS; which connects more than 40 agencies of the government including the Nigeria Customs Service, the Nigerian Ports Authority, the CBN and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) among others, would check mate influx of fake products.

Director General/CEO of the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Dr. Joseph Odumodu, who decried this influx of substandard goods into the country, noted that the organisation was taking urgent steps to rid the nation’s market of such unwholesome products. He disclosed that from the 80 per cent figures in 2011, the agency has succeeded in reducing the volume of the influx of fake and substandard goods into the country to 40 per cent, would further reduce to 15 per cent or less before the end of 2015.

It was gathered that the successful integration of the SON’s e-certificates into the NICIS for the processing of the SONCAP Form M and the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report, which has also been adopted by the CBN, will remove all encumbrances in import documentation processes for all products regulated by the organisation thus facilitating trade.

It was gathered that this integration of the platform of the apex bureau will in addition to facilitating trade simplify the process of cargo inspection, reduce cost and bring about online real time documentation of certifications in addition to fake products influx.

Dr. Odumodu said: “Importers or their agents would no longer be required to come to our office in Lekki to obtain or submit their documents, as they will now do it from the comfort of their offices or room and you know, this will reduce human contacts and therefore check corrupt tendencies of some people”

It was gathered that the integration of the systems coupled with the proposed enforcement of the new SON Act 2015 will make it difficult for fake and substandard goods to find their way into the country. The SON-boss, who doubles as president of the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO), however called on importers and clearing agents to cooperate with the organisation in its bid to rid the nation’s market of fake and substandard products.

But stakeholders have also argued that it would take not only the efforts of SON to rid the country of unwholesome products but rather the support and cooperation of other sister agencies, especially the Customs, which sees, inspects and endorses all products whether at the air, seaports or land borders before they come into the country. Some stakeholders argued that ouster of SON from the seaports at the time the anti-fake products was raging was not a good decision by the government.

“You can agree with us that since the SON and some other agencies were asked to leave the ports on the basis of complaints by Customs has not led to the expected reduction in the dwell time of cargo at the ports, which still stands above 21 days”, a stakeholder, who pleaded anonymity said.

It is therefore in the light of this that all stakeholders must work together to rid Nigeria of unwholesome products, which are inimical not only to the health and wellbeing of the Nigerian citizens but also a threat to the nation’s economy. (nationalmirror)

N.B: To get a comprehensive book on import operations, management, logistics, and documentation; SON, SONCAP and MANCAP Acts; import prohibition lists, customs compliance management etc, click on the links below:
http://www.tectono-business.com/2015/07/tectono-business-review-in-conjunction_11.html