By DAPO OLAWUNI
Licensed customs clearing agents have warned the Nigeria Customs Service that they would not allow themselves be intimidated and arm twisted by customs officers in their quest to meet up with their N2 trillion revenue target for year 2020.
National Secretary of Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Mr Babatunde Mukaila stated this at the weekend while addressing journalists.
According to him, the Customs would only collect any revenue due to them, and not the usual practice of slamming unnecessary percentages and tariffs on Importers, especially due to mistakes in classification of cargoes.
Giving an illustration of how customs have been cheating clearing agents, he said a customs officer could classify a mobile phone as a computer set, just because the phone could send mail, print documents, surf internet and carry out some functions of a computer.
He said that in such situation, rather than the phone paying 5% duty, the officer would slam a 20 percent duty of what a computer pays, then slam the importer another 25 percent as penalty for wrong classification.
According to him “This is what Customs have been doing to help them meet their target. That will stop. A borderline argument is a borderline argument. If somebody does a willful wrong declaration, the law says you can slam him or her that penalty to discourage such person or corporate entity from willfully calling red blue but not when there is an argument to settle”
“Customs can target ten trillion, they have every right to target whatever they want to target, provided they do trade facilitation, if they are not arm twisting people to get at that target, the duty of my president is to make sure that he put Customs on their toes to make sure that they facilitate trade while they look for their target”
“This year, Customs would facilitate trade and they would get what they deserve, we would not allow them arm twist the Nigerian traders to arrive at that target”
“They would only collect appropriate duty, and not a duty to enable them achieve their target”
“We would not seat and watch them fabricate position out of the book” he said
Mukaila assured that ANLCA is going to do what is needed to cooperate with customs on very good standing and equal strength. He said clearing agents will help them if they are ready to play by the rule not to arm-twist traders.
“I am not pledging to help them, I am saying if what they deserve to have is N700 million that is what they are going to get. We are not going to sit and watch them fabricate position out of the book”