The Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service, NAQS, says Nigeria charges one of the lowest fees for the inspection and certification of agricultural produce for export on the continent.
Dr Chigozie Nwodo, the Head of Media, Communication and Strategies Unit, NAQS disclosed this in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja.
Mr Nwodo said that the agency was reaction to allegation by some unknown group claiming that the NAQS charged “the most outrageous’’ fee of N5, 000 per kg of agricultural produce packaged for export.
“Thy claim that the exorbitant rate supposedly deters Nigerian exporters and drives them to take their cargoes to a neighbouring country for export and this claim is transparently false and beggar’s belief.
“The truth is that anybody who is conversant with the valid terms for the export of agricultural commodities will take this claim with a pinch of salt.
“The person would have saved him/herself the embarrassment of serving as an unwitting purveyor of fake news if he/she had conducted an independent fact-check.
“They might even contact the agency to seek the other side of the story as required by the norm of balance, which is one of the fundamental tenets news,’’ he said.
Mr Nwodo explained that all user fees chargeable by the agency in connection with the export of plant, animal and aquatic items were clearly listed on the NAQS website.
He said that the comprehensive lists of the fees were first published in 2017 and they had remained accessible till date.
“The fees were integrated into the text of the agency’s Service Level Agreement for the sake of emphasis.
Mr Nwodo affirmed that ‘’NAQS does not demand or exact charges outside the approved fees under any circumstance.’’
“We consider it most uncharitable that the agency would be accused of levying N5,000 per kg of agricultural produce when we charge less than that amount for a full 20-feet container.
He emphasised that NAQS was adamantly pro-business and one of the key drivers of the present administration’s initiative to grow Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings from non-oil exports.
“Our solid commitment to encouraging and facilitating agriculture-based export was reflected in the last Presidential Enabling Business Council, PEBEC, report which ranked NAQS as the Second Most Improved MDA
“It also made the agency the overall third best in Transparency and Operation Efficiency,’’ Mr Nwodo said.
He, therefore, urged the public to discountenance the untruth that NAQS charges unreasonably high fees.
Mr Nwodo added that contrary to the report, NAQS user fees charged by Nigeria for the inspection and certification of agricultural items were actually one of the lowest on the continent.
He also advised exporters and their agents to consult the agency’s website to ascertain the applicable rates, when in doubt.