By Frank Odinukaeze
Shippers’ Association of Lagos State (SALS),has threatened to take the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS),and the Central Bank of Nigeria,( CBN) to court for non compliance and contravention of Act 20 of 2002,and the General Agreement on Trade and Tariff (GAT) Article 7, principles on valuation.
Evangelist Leo Ogamba,the newly elected President of the Shippers’ Association of Lagos State (SALS)stated this in an exclusive interview with MMS Plus, shortly after his inauguration as the president of the foremost shippers Association in Apapa, Lagos,last week.
Ogamba ,a lawyer by profession ,upbraided the CBN for its policy of e- valuation and e- invoicing which he says contravened both the GAT and Act 20 of 2002.
He opined that the basis for appraising Customs duty is transaction value, stressing that transaction value is the price of the goods in the exporter country.
He accused NCS of jettisoning the provisions of the GAT and Act 20 of 2002 for the new e-valuation regime as basis for transaction, stressing that the new e- valuation and e- invoicing calculation is based on benchmarking matrix from anywhere the goods are sold.
He said when you underline benchmarking matrix from anywhere the goods are sold viz-a-viz the transaction value from the exporter country ,they don’t mean the same thing.
He stated that benchmarking is a standard to measure and matrix the outcome
” What the NCS has done is that they have gone back to the International Accounting and Reporting method (IDIRA). They use open market system, that is the price of the goods in the open market to appraise duty.That is what they have gone to do. And that contravenes Act of 20 2002,by virtue of which Nigeria domesticated GAT principle of valuation,” he said.
He argued that it is improper to amend an Act of the National Assembly by fiat.
“You can’t just amend an Act of the National Assembly through policy. It’s a big problem, “he stated.
He blamed the banks for providing the platform for the smuggling of goods to neighbouring countries, following the introduction of the e- valuation invoicing.
He observed that the association and the government are losing a lot of money as a result of goods that are supposed to come into the country being smuggled to other business friendly neighbouring ports.
” Let me tell you,the price of any commodity is determined by the landing cost of the commodity. What I’m saying in essence is that prices of commodities in the open market are fixed at the ports and the border stations. Because the importer or the exporter will at the end of the day,come up with the landing cost of that cargo.And he will add his profit” he said.
The SALS president further stated that there is non- compliance to allowable deduction of what the agents call ‘age rebate’ on second hand vehicles.
His words,”It’s there in the law.In customs notice 13, that for every year,used vehicles that are 7 years to 10 years is duty free. But customs have swept the law under the carpet.” He declared that ” We are going to excavate some laws and present to government, so that they will know the world over is talking about trade facilitation”. Stressing that ” The challenges of what brought about the issue of using arbitrary basis to determine value or appraise customs duty is because of the revenue target given to Customs. So they do whatever they want to do, anything possible to meet that target at the detriment of Nigerians”
He faulted the Federal Government for churning out policies that stifle business growth and hindering the ease of doing business in the ports.
He lamented that as a result of bad policies of the government, some of his members have been forced to abandon the shipping business.
“Among our members, there are some that were bringing in containers. But today, they are second hand car dealers. Is that a progress? That is not progress. The reason for this is deficiency in policies of government on International trade and even local policies, which have made doing business in the ports rather cumbersome,” he said.