A Draft Supplementary Act on Community Rules of Origin and procedures applicable to products originating in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has been approved by the Ministers of Finance from ECOWAS Member States.
The final Report of their meeting which concluded on the 2nd of November 2018 in Abuja, Nigeria, stated that the draft supplementary Act was approved, subject to rephrasing its Article 26 to ensure that companies which already benefit from tariff preference under the old protocol do not lose it with the coming into force of the new text.
Also approved is the draft Supplementary Act on Mutual Assistance and cooperation between customs administrations of ECOWAS member states and collaboration between them and ECOWAS Commission on customs matters.
In addition to the draft regulation on the Change of Product Category in the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET), the Ministers approved the draft Supplementary Act adopting Community Rules for the Elimination of Double Taxation with Respect to taxes on Income, Capital and Inheritance as well as the Prevention of Tax Evasion and Avoidance within the ECOWAS Member States.
While approving the draft Act, the Ministers invited the ECOWAS Commission to ensure that the provisions of subsequent implementing regulations address the specific concerns raised during the meeting.
The concerns has to do mainly with the provision in the implementing legislation for a monitoring and evaluation mechanism as well as the provisions to combat unfair tax competition between Member States.
Even though the Ministers approved the draft Directive on Mutual Administrative Assistance on Tax Matters in Member States, they however, decided to postpone the consideration of the draft Directive on the establishment of a legal framework for the implementation of a tracking, tracing and tax verification system of manufactured or imported tobacco products in ECOWAS Member States.
This followed a request from the private sector that they be allowed time to make contributions to the draft text.
During the meeting, presentations were made on the Status of implementation of the recommendations of the 3rd meeting of ECOWAS Ministers of Finance, the Report of the 4th meeting of Directors General of Customs, the 61st and 62ndmeetings of the Technical Committee on Trade, Customs and Free Movement of Persons, as well as the Directive on the establishment of a legal framework for the implementation of a tracking, tracing and tax verification system of manufactured or imported tobacco products in ECOWAS Member States.
On the strength of the progress made, the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Finance Mrs Halima Ahmed, entreated the Ministers on the timely remittance of Community levy that is collected directly and domiciled in the ECOWAS account maintained in the various Member States. She also called for a rigorous application of the tax base.
The Ministers of Finance acknowledged the status of implementation of recommendations of its last meeting as presented, and thanked the Commission for implementing all the recommendations.
While bringing the meeting to a close, the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement, M. Tèi Konzi. Thanked the Ministers for approving the draft texts submitted to them.
On behalf of the Chair of the meeting and Nigeria’s minister of Finance Mrs Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, the Minister for Budget of Niger Republic, Mr Jalloud Hamat also thanked his colleagues for their contributions and expressed the hope that the texts approved would contribute to the consolidation of the ECOWAS Customs union.