The importers and NGOs had accused government of not granting them import duty waivers in respect of drugs, health commodities and related equipment donated by the Global Fund.
But the Ministry of Finance said in a statement yesterday that the complainants did not follow due process in asking for duty waivers, adding that explained the reason they were denied.
The statement signed by the Director of Information in the ministry, Salisu Na’inna Dambatte, read: ‘’The attention of the Federal Ministry of Finance has been drawn to attempts by some importers and Non-Government Organisations, NGOs, to malign the name of the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, and the Ministry over spurious claims of refusing to grant import duty waivers in respect of drugs, health commodities and related equipment donated by the Global Fund.
‘’The Ministry strongly denies that the Minister has refused to grant import duty waivers to some importers and NGOs for drugs and health commodities imported into the country.
‘’There are laid down statutory procedures governing the granting of import duty waivers to importers and NGOs, which are part of holistic measures put in place to check abuses of the Federal Government’s fiscal incentives, and to put a halt to rampart corrupt practices in the economic sector.
‘’These procedures include submission of an application by the importer and NGO to the Federal Ministry of Finance through the Federal Ministry of Health; evidence of registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission; submission of an approved Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, duly signed by the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning between the donor agencies, federal government and the recipient-NGOs.
‘’Others include presentation of a certificate of exemption from tax from the Federal Inland Revenue Service (only for those who engage in non-profit making activities in line with their objectives), submission of a proforma invoice indicating the value of the imported items, bill of laden and if the imported items are donated, the NGOs are required to provide the Federal Ministry of Finance with authenticated letter from the donor agencies.
“Additional documentation may also be required where the need arises. Meanwhile, some of the applicants referred to in the sponsored write-up being planned for circulation did not submit the required documents for processing import duty waivers requests
‘’The Federal Ministry of Finance has in recent times observed the flagrant abuse of the import duty waivers by some NGOs and importers, who smuggled other imported items into approved waivers issued for the importation of medical equipment and drug related items.
‘’The Ministry has also observed that some importers and NGOs engage in the sale of imported drug items which are meant to be distributed to the public free after being granted import duty exemption by the government.”
‘’This is in contravention of the provisions of Section 46 of the Customs and Excise Management Act, CEMA of 1958 (as amended).
‘’For the avoidance of doubt, the Federal Ministry of Finance wishes to state that priority and special attention are always accorded requests for import duty waivers for medical equipment and drugs related items. As a matter of fact, 318 concession applications were received and 175 were processed to conclusion from 1st May to 24th November, 2017.
‘’The Federal Ministry of Finance also wishes to state that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration appreciates the generosity of donor agencies and partner NGOs in the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS, Malaria, tuberculosis and other deadly diseases but will not succumb to cheap blackmail and acts of economic sabotage under the guise of the delivery of health services to the people of Nigeria.’’