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Nigerian Obnoxious Food Import Bills


Nigeria is carrying a very treacherous burden that is known as Food Import Bills. These bills are so cumbersome and avoidable that they fuel inflation, exacerbate poverty and grow at an unsustainable rate of 11 percent per annum. At last count, they consumed over N1.2 trillion per year. With these bills and over 70 percent of recurrent overhead, capital development will be difficult.

The commodities that make up the bulk of these bills are:
Wheat -       N 635 billion
Rice    -       N 356 billion
Sugar  -       N 217 billon
Fish    -       N 97 billion
The most excruciating past is that these are products we can either produce or can find local alternatives are substitutes.

Government Reactions
Government has instituted prompt and decisive strategies to curb the excess bills by adjusting the various tariff regimes to curtail these importations. Beginning from July 2012, wheat flour will attract duty of 100 percent.
Wheat grain     -       20 percent
Imported Rice  -    30 percent
Polished Rice   -     50 percent

Duty on Rice products will be raised to 100 percent before the end of the year. Also, the importation of cassava flour will be prohibited from March 31, 2012.
The efficacy of these tariff regimes will be determined by the strictness and the determination of the custom officers to enforce them and to checkmate smuggling at the boarders. Nigerian boarders are porious and very extended thereby making them very cumbersome for effective enforcement. Also, bribery and corruption are other endemic deterrents to effective enforcement.
The Most Effective Deterrent to Imported Goods
The most effective deterrent is to provide local alternatives that have good qualities and less expensive. The best way to do this is to promote industrialization and mechanized agriculture to produce more food, substitutes for imported raw materials and to educate the people to patronize local products. Once there are no local substitutes, people will continue to purchase what is available regardless of the price. Through organized mechanized agriculture and systematic industrialization, we can produce enough rice, sugar etc to drastically reduce the obnoxious Food Import Bills.


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