The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), has expressed concern over the likely impact of the new electronic invoicing (e-Invoicing) model introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Given the limited time for its take off (February 1), the Chamber therefore called for consideration for importers and exporters especially the Small & Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs), who would now use the e-Invoicing and e-Evaluator platforms for their transactions.
The Director-General, LCCI, Dr. Chinyere Almona, in a statement, expressed the Chamber’s concern about the potential impact of this new guideline on headline inflation.”
She called for “deeper stakeholder consultation and collaboration with the organised private sector in developing such initiatives to ensure that implementation is efficient.”
Almona argued that “Ideally, for a critical change of this nature, there should be a pilot phase to help identify potential challenges and deal with these before the commencement date.
“The commencement date of 1 February provides only 10 days from the issuance of the guideline, which does not give sufficient time for proper transition. Issues of legal liability are not clear, and dispute resolution mechanisms need to be articulated.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria needs to establish an interactive and live customer complaints resolution section within the Trade Monitoring System to address any bottlenecks that may occur during transactions.”
We also encourage the Federal Government to automate more processes to reduce human interface as a way of curtailing corruptive tendencies in our trade chain.
The Chamber also sought clarity regarding the subscription fee of $350, if it is to be paid in Naira equivalence or foreign currency, and if users will be allowed to source the Dollars through the CBN.
It added that the 2.5% around the vertical prices appears stringent and should be reviewed to about 5% as discriminatory pricing may be a factor.
Further, it criticised that the exemption of imports worth $10,000 appears too low as this effectively means that no import will be exempted.
The Chamber said: “There should be sufficient transparency and governance around the CBN-appointed agents, and authorised dealer banks to ensure adequate independence and supervision.
“The objectives for the introduction of e-Evaluator and e-Invoicing for import and export by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) are quite commendable as it is expected to facilitate trade transactions, boost revenue through more accurate invoicing, and reduce processing time for import and export forms.
“The application of a Global Price Verification Mechanism guided by a benchmark price is also commendable. As we transit to a more automated system, there is a need to increase our investment in digital infrastructure to support the innovative digital products that are emerging in the country.
“We also encourage the Federal Government to automate more processes to reduce human interface as a way of curtailing corruptive tendencies in our trade chain.
“The automation drive should also move to port operations where there are still sensitive procedures done manually with attendant cost burdens on importers and exporters.”
Given the level of resilience and being one of the fastest-growing sectors, recording a year-on-year growth rate of 11.90% and a GDP contribution of 14.93% in the third quarter of 2021, the Chamber urged the government to make the Nigerian trade system more efficient and easier to navigate by all parties.
“This will boost our trade balance and position Nigeria to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) which is expected to gain some momentum this year,” it added.