By Godwin Oritse
IMPORTERS of stockfish, popularly called Okporoko by Igbos and Kpanla by the Yorubas have made overtures to the Federal Government to reduce the duty rate on the importation of this species of fish.
Speaking to Vanguard Maritime Report, a fishery consultant, Mrs Abiodun Cheke, said that there had been discussions with the government to this effect adding that majority of Nigerians do not have access to the fish because of its high cost.
Cheke also said that a reduction in the duty rate will bring about an increase in revenue payable to the government as it is losing revenue because a lot of dubious traders are bringing the product into the country illegally through land borders.
She explained that if the duty is reduced, most of these unscrupulous importers will not go through land border to bring stockfish because they complain that the high duty rate is the reason for their action.
Cheke advised Norwegian fish exporters to deal with only Nigerian importers that have government approved fish import licence with a view to stemming the importation through unapproved routes.
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She stated: “There is the need to reduce the tariff of stockfish from 20 per cent to 10 per cent in the interest of the nation and for increased revenue to Federal Government.”
Speaking in a similar vein, Mr Greg Illobinso, vice chairman, First Premier Stock Fish Importers Association, said anything that will bring down the duty on stock fish will be welcome and supported by the group.
Commenting on the issue, an importer of stockfish, Mr Charles Anurukem, said that if the duty rate is reviewed downwards, it would make it cheaper and affordable to the ordinary Nigerian.
Anurukem also suggested that the government can bring down the rate on the head of the stockfish from 20 per cent to per cent while the body should be reviewed down to 10 per cent.