CBN Discontinues Price Verification Portal for Form ‘M’ Applications

In a significant policy shift, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has announced the discontinuation of the Price Verification Portal (PVS) for validating Form ‘M’ applications. This was disclosed by Dr. W.J Kanya, the Acting Director of the Trade and Exchange Department at CBN, in a circular addressed to banks and the general public.

The circular, titled ‘Discontinuation of the Central Bank of Nigeria Price Verification Portal,’ references an earlier circular dated August 17, 2023, which announced the deployment of the Price Verification System (PVS). The PVS was introduced as a requirement for importers to access foreign exchange, making the price verification report mandatory for all Form ‘M’ requests.

Dr. Kanya stated, “In view of recent developments in the Nigerian Foreign Exchange Market, the CBN hereby discontinues the Price Verification System (PVS). Consequently, with effect from July 01, 2024, all applications for Form ‘M’ shall be validated without the Price Verification Report generated from the Price Verification Portal. For the avoidance of doubt, by this circular, the Price Verification Report is no longer a requirement for the completion of a Form ‘M’.”

Form ‘M’ is a declaration of intention to import physical goods into Nigeria and is used to apply for foreign exchange purchases in the official forex market. The introduction of the PVS had been met with criticism from importers and various private sector groups, including the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA).

Segun Ajayi-Kadir, the Director General of MAN, welcomed the discontinuation, stating, “We look forward to the reversal of so many unnecessary restrictions that were placed by the CBN. One of them is the price verification portal which for all practical purposes is quite unnecessary. It is affecting the businesses of our members who are not able to import raw materials, machines, and parts because the prices that they bought do not fall into the threshold of the portal. I think it is limiting businesses. The CBN should discontinue the operation of that portal.”

Members of the NCMDLCA also criticized the PVS, arguing that it contravened the Customs and Excise Management (Amendment) Act 20 of 2003 and the Nigeria Customs Service Act 2023 regarding the valuation of imports. Lucky Amiwero, the founder of NCMDLCA, expressed concerns in a letter addressed to the President, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, and the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Customs and Excise. He stated, “This valuation process is clearly outlined in the law that governs the valuation of imported goods. We have observed that if such implementation is allowed, it will lead to duplication and cumbersome procedures in our import and export system, particularly for those who are not experts in valuation and import-export procedures. We eagerly await an urgent response to address this economic situation.”

The decision to discontinue the PVS is expected to simplify the process for importers and alleviate some of the challenges they faced under the previous system, potentially boosting business activities and improving the ease of doing business in Nigeria.

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