Benin – Members of Plantation Owners Forum of Nigeria (POFON) yesterday joined the Senate to caution the Federal Government to critically view the proposed application by OLAM to import 95,000 MT of crude palm oil, 50,000 MT of Stearin in bulk, 60,000MT of Crude Palm Olein and 50,000MT of Palm Fatty Acid Distillates under the West African Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS).
It would be recalled that The Senate at the plenary on Tuesday urged the executive arm of Government to ban the importation of palm oil products into the country to protect and encourage local productions.
Addressing journalists in Benin City, Mr. Emmanuel Ibru and Fatai Afolabi, Chairman and Executive Secretary of Plantation Owners Forum of Nigeria (POFON), respectively on behalf of stakeholders queried the rationale behind OLAM proposed importation of crude palm oil especially the asking of tax rebate on such importation.
Ibru pointed out that the danger posed by the activity of OLAM and some trade agents of the Malaysian Palm Oil Board is targeted at jeopardising the country’s oil palm industry’s efforts to break even.
Berating OLAM over its proposed application which was also described as both scandalous and offensive to the collective sensibilities of local palm oil producers in the country and the government, Ibru said on the side of local producers, it has the potentials to cripple the rising wave of investment currently being witnessed in the expansions of plantations and processing facilities, aimed at achieving self-sufficiency in palm oil production in the short to medium terms.
On the side of government, according to him, “the proposition by OLAM amounts to an affront on the Agricultural Production Policy (APP) and the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
“We are aware that Malaysia recently removed export tax on crude palm oil and refined products and some Nigerian traders are stockpiling these products in neighbouring West African Countries to be re-imported and smuggled into Nigeria using ETLS cover.
“For the avoidance of doubt, importation of crude palm oil (CPO) attracts a tarrif of 35% (10% duty plus 25% levy). However, other refined vegetable oil products including Olein, Stearin, Crude Palm Olein and Palm Fatty
“Acid Distillates are on the import prohibition list. Ironically, these are the same products that OLAM sought approval to import under ETLS.”