Blacklisting of importers looms, SWAN warns
Women accountants under the aegis of Society of Women Accountant of Nigeria (SWAN) have warned that importers of raw materials may soon be blacklisted by the international community due to failure of many companies to meet their financial commitment to suppliers.
Speaking at a one-day workshop in Lagos, the accountants said that the huge gap in the naira to dollar exchange rates when Letters of Credit were approved and the period they were expected to pay suppliers have dealt a blow on the integrity of most firms.
Due to scarcity of foreign currency and the foreign exchange policies of the Central Bank of Nigeria, and inconsistency in the naira to dollar exchange rate, many importers who opened LCs at N197 to $1 are paying more than N300 to a dollar for raw materials.
Mrs. Biola Sotunde of the Financial Intelligence Unit, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, said that foreign business partners to Nigerian companies were finding it difficult to trust and continue doing business in Nigeria.
She said, “Our letters of credit are not being honoured in the international market. If we are not careful we may be tilting back into the blacklisted countries and any moment from now, international business firms will not do business with Nigeria because of integrity issues. But there is hope because we are very rich in human and natural resources.”
The Chairperson, SWAN, Mrs. Titi Akibayo, said that the workshop themed: ‘Signing of business integrity pacts with clients to promote good corporate identity,’ aimed to educate members on the need to promote corporate identity using business integrity pacts.
“The programme is to educate members of ICAN that our motto which is accuracy and integrity need to be upheld. The more you uphold it the more the business will move forward and the more Nigeria will move forward. Integrity and corruption is a personal thing. It is an individual that can decide to do and undo. We hope to educate individuals to take the right path so that they can move their businesses forward either as an employee or employers.”
A former Bursar, Redeemers University, Mrs. Tokunbo Obafemi Adegbola, while speaking on the importance of transparency and accountability pointed out that lack of these attributes by Nigerians was discouraging foreign investors.
She said, “If we have good integrity and we are transparent in business, we will attract investors naturally because a lot of investors worldwide who will bring their money into the country are not going to stay with us. They will probably put their money and go back to their countries and will expect returns but when they cannot trust you and they know that you are full of sharp practices they are not too sure that their money will go down the drain.
“We are part of the country and being a professional body, we should not feel unconcerned because our profession is supposed to uphold integrity. There should not be an anti-corruption campaign and we are not part of it. If we are not part of it, what are we doing? Because it is affecting our businesses, training, and everything we do.”
The Executive Vice Chairman, The Convention on Business Integrity, Mr. Olusoji Apampa, highlighted the challenges the country was facing in the area of business integrity while a public relations expert, Mr. Oladele Ogunlana, charged the accountants to always challenge corrupt practices.