The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Tuesday, said the import waiver system that was in place prior to the coming of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration was lopsided and not in conformity with international best practices.
She stated this in Abuja while speaking at the Public Forum organized by the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe, with the theme ‘The Jonathan administration: Four impactful years’.
The minister, who described the previous import waiver policy as being selective, added that such a policy provided an unequal playing field for businesses operating in the country.
Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala explained that upon assumption of office, one of the first major reforms of the Jonathan administration was to call for a comprehensive review of the import waiver policy to enable it to stimulate competition as well as encourage investments.
She said, “Previously, our import waiver policy was not a very good one. It resulted into an unlevel playing field. We were granting waivers to individuals and individual companies and sometimes we didn’t do it as strategic as we should have.
“All that has been reformed as of three years ago. Infact, I made bold to say that when I first came, the first economic management team meeting and the first issue that the President put on the table was that we needed to reform the import waiver policy because he felt it generated a lot of rancor and a lot of unlevel playing field
“We wanted something that will create and we will manage in a dispassionate manner. If you look now, we give waivers by sector. Once we give waiver to a sector, everybody in that sector is entitled to get that waiver.
“And why do we do it? We are doing it now as part of the industrial policy as incentives to attract companies to come and invest”.