FG grants zero tariff on educational materials

In its efforts to encourage reading habit and bring down the high illiteracy rate in the country, the Federal Government has reduced import duty on reading items and raw materials for their production. Consequently, with duty reduction ranging from 30 percent to 100 percent, it is expected that the prices of reading materials will nose-dive thereby enabling many Nigerians to have access to books and other materials.

Newsprint, a major raw material for the production of newspapers and magazines, has its duty reduced from 15 percent to zero, while printing ink (black and others) has its duty slashed from 35 per cent to 20, a 42.9-percent reduction. Similarly, “paper and paperboard of a kind used as a base for photosensitive, heat-sensitive or electro-sensitive paper or paperboard” like carbonising base paper or wallpaper base now attract five per cent duty as against the 15 percent, a decrease of 66.7 percent.

Also, import duty on items like registers, accounts books, notebooks, other books, receipt books, letter pad, not prohibited in the country, has been pegged at 20 per cent down from the 30 percent it was before October 1, 2005. Perhaps in the spirit of housing for all, some building and construction materials had their duty also reduced in the new tariff structure in line with the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET), adopted by all countries of the sub-region.

Those affected include iron and non-alloy steel products and rectangular cross-section width measuring less than twice the thickness, which duty has been slashed by 66.7 per cent, as their duty is now five percent instead of 15 percent. Also flat-rolled products of iron and iron in coils not further worked than hot-rolled with pattern in relief have their duty cut from same 15 percent to five.

On the other hand, consumers of confectioneries and products with sugar elements may have to pay more now as the duty on raw sugar either cane, beet or any other, has been increased by as much as 233 percent as the import duty has gone up from15 percent to 50 percent.

The government decided to adopt the CET to stem the high and unwieldy state of the nation’s tariff, a development that has scared importers to other ports of the sub-region. One of the countries that has maintained a business-friendly tariff structure is Nigeria’s immediate neighbour, the Republic of Benin, which through her two ports in Cotonou and Port Novo, Nigerian-bound goods find their way into the country through unapproved routes.

Apart from the high tariff in the nation’s seaports and border posts importers also contend with a multiplicity charges and levies, all of which add up to render the cost of goods very high and above the reach of the common man.