The absence of uniform costs for clearing the same goods at various ports is another issue in Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) process yet to be resolved. NCS has come under serious criticisms especially on vehicle imports as experts argue that the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is sufficient data to enable NCS calculate actual duties in a transparent template that should be available to the public.
Customs play a vital role everywhere in the world. In Nigeria, it’s a strange and arduous task to be responsible for trade facilitation and security, then we add revenue collection.
Looking at things from the importer/ freight forwarders perspective in Nigeria, one would observe that the customs broker is expected to calculate government duty on vehicles without a framework or template to do so.
In America, it is the customs broker’s bank that pays that duty and the importer can’t influence this. If the customs broker is involved in any connivance or shortchanges the government, the penalty is 7 years imprisonment without an option of fine. This responsibility on the freight agent ensures he does the job without compromise.
It is important to note that in America, the government licenses individuals while licenses are given to companies in Nigeria.
Uniform tariff or customs duties already work in Ghana, and with basic details like the VIN inserted into the Customs system, one can tell the exact duties before buying a vehicle abroad. Why can’t we have a precise duty calculating template to take away the problem of under-valuation and continuous interception of already cleared goods? Several Nigerian freight agents and trading public have lamented.
Amid these concerns, it appears that NCS is ready to explore strategies towarding achieving a precise calculating template for vehicular imports, as the Area Controller of the NCS at the Ports and Terminal Multiservices Limited (PTML), Comptroller Festus Okun has called for an engagement scheduled for next week.
Our correspondent obtained a circular disseminated on Wednesday last week and signed by the Command’s Public Relations Officer, Mr. Mohammed Yakubu.
The letter read, “I’m directed to invite all stakeholders to a sensitization workshop on the VIN Valuation Module and Smart Fast Track which are set to be activated in the Nigerian Customs Integrated System (NICIS II) live environment.
The document was addressed to the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) PTML Chapter, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) PTML Chapter, Association of Registered Freight Forwarders in Nigeria (AREFFN), Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Coscharis, Globe Motors, among others.
Some freight agents have expressed delight at this development, amid optimism that the engagement could birth a new era of precise customs duties calculation template using VIN.