As a result, the importers have advised the government to find alternative means of raising funds for the levy rather than forcing the 0.2 per cent tax on them, citing the impact on their cost of operations.
But, should the government go ahead to implement the levy, the General Secretary of GUTA, Mr Alpha Shaban, said his outfit would pass on the cost to consumers through increased prices of their imports.
“This is automatic; if the government refuses to heed our call and decides to force this import tax on us, we will not hesitate to push the extra cost to the consumer,” he said.
He explained that although the business community, in principle, was not against the levy, it believed that the state must be made to take over that responsibility instead of the importers.
“We believe that the government has not been fair to traders in the country. It is the responsibility of every member state to contribute to the operations of the Africa Union but not importers,” he said.
“We think the AU levy is a fantastic idea, but we object to the means by which it is being forced on the business community. We fought for the scrapping of the various nuisance taxes when this government took office. And less than six months away, you are telling us your intention to introduce a new tax. This is not understandable,” he added.
Mr Shaban said implementing the tax would be counterproductive to the business community.
“We believe that the AU, as a body, must ensure that its members contribute to the funds if it needs a reliable source of funding to run its operations,” the general secretary observed.
Businesses not ready to absorb
The Executive Secretary of the Importers and Exporters Association, Mr Samson Awingobit Asaaki, in an interview, told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS that the business community was not ready to absorb the new import levy.
That, he said, was because the implementation of the levy would increase the cost of operation for importers.
“When it happens like that, we the business community, would have no other choice than to transfer the cost onto the prices of goods for the consumers,” he said.
Mr Asaaki explained that majority of importers in the country import their goods from outside the AU market, therefore, implementing this import tax levy would affect everybody.
“Importers are not against the government supporting activities of the Africa Union but the government should look at getting the money from other sources,” he said.
Access to funds for the AU dates back to the ‘Retreat on Financing of the Union’ adopted by the Heads of States and Government (HOSG) at the 27th Summit of the AU in Kigali, Rwanda, in July 2016.
The Decision directs all African Union member states to implement a 0.2 per cent levy on eligible imports to finance the African Union. The decision was supposed to enter into operations for each member state from January this year.
The AU import levy will apply to the Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF) value at the port of disembarkation for imports arriving by sea and road and the customs value at the airport of disembarkation for goods arriving by air.
Credit: Maclean Kwofi