ANLCA Registered BOT Slams Review of Customs Act, Kicks Against 25% Penalty on Debit Notes

Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha

…Picks Holes in N2.2 Trillion Customs Revenue Realised in 2021

By DAPO OLAWUNI

The registered Board of Trustees of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has kicked against some sections of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) which is undergoing review at the National Assembly, saying that the slamming of 25% penalty in all debit notes has been added to the law and this is not acceptable.

Chairman of the ANLCA Board, Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha in an interaction with selected journalists in Lagos on Thursday also reacted to the N2.2Trillion revenue generated by the customs service in 2022, saying that the service achieved this feat through a little bit of armtwisting and increase in exchange rate.

According to the BOT Chairman who spoke in company of some top executives of the association, the suspended National Executive Committee (NECOM) of the association led by Tony Iju failed to represent the association properly at the last Public Hearing held at the National Assembly in 2021.

He said that a major aspect of the customs Act which has been identified and which would affect operations of members is the slamming of 25% penalty on every debit note, as against N600 provided in the CEMA.

“On the day of the public hearing I told my people to step down because, if we had gone there, we would be making two different positions as Kayode Farinto and Tony Iju were already there.
Myself and Chief Elochukwu were in Abuja, if we had gone there, it would be making it open to the world that we have a divided house.

“It is unfortunate that they could not even represent us properly or articulate their thoughts, and I was ashamed that day, to see somebody standing in for ANLCA and giving such presentation, no proper homework was done on the Act.
We didn’t say we should go there and attack customs.

“When we saw what they have done, we have already taken it up at Senate level, of course the Act would move from House of Rep to the Senate.

“Basically, the section we have kicked against till today is slamming 25% penalty on every debit note, it is like adding salt to injury, before now, it has always been N600 penalty on every debit note. In fairness, the N600 is already outdated, even my son can bring out N600.

“But what we are saying is that, even if you are removing the N600, we should be able to agree on a percentage, if they say 2.5% on every debit note raised, it is still understandable. Any greedy officer are now eager to raise a debit note because they know that the 25% penalty would shoot it up.

“This is now inside the amended CEMA, and it was among the points we have raised” Mustapha told journalists.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Customs Service announced on Thursday that it generated the sum of N2.2Trillion as against the N1.6Trillion given to her by the Federal government in year 2021.

Reacting to this, the ANLCA Registered BOT noted that as at the time the Federal Government gave customs the target, the exchange rate was N306 to a Dollar, but as at today the exchange rate is N404.

He said that this was a great factor that helped shore-up the customs revenue target, albeit to the detriment of Nigerian importers and investors.

“If the customs say that they have generated N2.2trillion, it is nothing but basically the increase in exchange rate on the system

“Secondly, the valuation system has been stupendously outrageous and it is killing trade facilitation, virtually every customs officer has become a valuation officer and we have projected this to the customs management in our last visit.

“The customs valuation units should be allowed to do their job, as it is today, even Customs FOU, Strike Force, they all do valuation jobs

“However, we were able to resolve this halfway with management that every valuation problem should be referred to the valuation units at the commands. They also promised to set up a valuation complaint desk which would address issues immediately, where the issue cannot be resolved, it would be escalated to Zonal or headquarters.

“They also requested that we should be meeting with them on quarterly basis” he said

Alhaji Mustapha however defended the Nigerian customs, saying that the association would not support any service providers or agency to take over the job of the customs as it is being propagated in some Government and industry quarters.

“We do not want the government to take their job away from them, we know the undertone that is going on, some other providers wants to take over the job of customs, but we would never support that as customs agents,we want the customs to continue doing their job, however they should add human face, there has been a lot of high handedness from some quarters and we want it to be resolved” he said

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