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Reps asks CBN to suspend take-off of e-Invoicing

House of Representatives chamber

.Seeks 90-day reprieve for future policy implementation

The House of Representatives yesterday asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to suspend the planned implementation of the newly-introduced, electronic invoicing (e-Invoice) for all import and export operations.

This comes barely a week after the apex bank unveiled the guidelines for the new electronic transaction model, expected to take off on February 1.

The lawmakers also urged the CBN to give at least a 90 days’ notice for subsequent new fiscal/monetary policy implementation to “allow for adjustment to stabilise the economy.”

This was part of the resolution passed during the plenary session following the adoption of a motion sponsored by the Chairman, Committee on Customs and Excise, Leke Abjide, a member from Kogi State.

Recall that in the circular, titled: “Guidelines on the Introduction of E-Evaluator, E-Invoicing for Import and Export in Nigeria,” CBN had said the e-Valuator and e-Invoice would replace the hard copy final invoice as part of the documentation required for all import and export transactions.

Stakeholders engageement

But leading the debate on the motion, Abejide kicked against the CBN directive, saying it does not provide enough time for stakeholders’ engagement.

Indeed, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), had expressed concern over the inflationary impact of e-Invoicing on goods and services.

The Chamber has called for a pilot phase to help identify potential challenges and deal with these before the commencement date.

Following criticisms on the suddenness of the policy, Abejide argued that a grace period of 90 days is “usually expected for transactions to run its full course to avoid distortion in the economy and also to avoid price distortions of trade.”

He continued: “Sudden monetary/fiscal circular hurriedly or half-haphazardly implemented often leads to policy summersault hence major policy change such as this.”

Hurried policy will distort prices of goods and services and create logjams for imports and exports, delay transactions and consequently cause port congestion.

Abejide also noted that the CBN has “gradually deviated” from its sole function of providing monetary policy measures to concentrating on fiscal policy measures, which is the function of the Ministry of Finance.

In his opinion, if the major stakeholders in the ports and the public are not given adequate time to study the policy, it will “distort prices of goods and services and create logjams for imports and exports, delay transactions and consequently cause port congestion.”

“Importers and exporters in the manufacturing, mining and trading sectors would be affected because as the exceptions indicate that all exporters and importers with a cumulative invoicing value equal to or above $500,000 or its equivalent in foreign currency would be affected, which is practically impossible to have anyone below this value cumulatively,” he added.

The motion was therefore unanimously adopted, and the CBN was asked to sensitise the public on the “workability of the policy in all major ports of entry, including seaports, airports, and border stations.”

The House also invited the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, to appear before its committee and explain if the policy will not affect the revenue generation of the Nigeria Customs Service.

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