The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab S. Ahmed says Nigeria will continue to deploy fiscal policies that protect it’s industries but also encourage Investments in critical sectors of the economy.
The minister made the commitment in Abuja at the opening session of 4th Meeting of the ECOWAS Finance Ministers on the Consolidation of ECOWAS Customs Union.
She said this became necessary with a view to achieving the effective implementation of the country’s Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP) and the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) within the transitional period of 5 years of implementation between 2015-2019.
She explained that this is without prejudice to the spirit of regional integration and free trade protcols as Nigeria has been in forefront of supported trade policies.
Accordding to her, “like every developing economy, Nigeria’s vision to industrialize is very strong.
Accordingly, Nigeria believe that ECOWAS Common External Tarrif (CET) should be designed to promote regional industrialization in a manner that on the long term reduces dependence on imports and will continue to work within ECOWAS to achieve these laudable objectives.
According to Mrs. Ahmed, the economies of scale that result from successful integration should serve as catalysts for economic development ’or the region.
The Minister therefore called on West Africa to while desiring integration into the global economy, to also diversify its economy through manufacturing, processing of primary products and other forms of economic modernization.
She reiterated that Nigeria undoubtedly supports a regional common tariff and a customs union for ECOWAS as major steps toward the achievement of the objective for which the ECOWAS itself was established
Mrs Ahmed said Nigeria’s current economic policies, in several aspects, seek to identify with, and actively participate in the effort to achieve regional economic development through cooperation.
Some of the measures taken she said include; “an Import Adjustment Tax (IAT) List which involves additional taxes on 177 Tariff Lines of the CET 2015 2019; A National list consisting of items whose import duty rates have been reviewed downwards to encourage rapid development in strategic sectors of the economy and an import Prohibition List (Trade) applicable only to certain goods originating from Third Countries.
The minister also used the occasion to advocate for more controls on tobacco in the subregion to minimise the health hazards associated with tobacco to establish a Track and Trace System for Manufactured and imported Tobacco Products which will represent ECOWAS’ genuine desire to enthrone best practices in tobacco taxation and control the public health hazards of these products.
On taxation she said “the draft regulations on an ECOWAS Tax Treaty Model and Mutual Assistance in Tax Collection can potentially ease tax treaties negotiations among the Member States, eliminate tax evasion/avoidance within the region, encourage tax audit and exchange of tax information as well as enhance regional integration.
The Finance Minister assured of Nigeria’s commitment to a sustainable, functional regional economic integration project that will, in the long run, facilitate economic growth and social prosperity for the peoples of West Africa.