…Says Customs VIN Valuation Exploitative
By DAPO OLAWUNI
There is palpable tension at the two major Roll-on Roll-off terminals in Nigeria; Tin Can Island Port and the PTML Terminal as freight forwarders have issued Nigeria Customs Service a 72-Hours Strike Notice over the newly introduced Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) Valuation System which was introduced by the service in January 2022.
The VIN Valuation is a system that uses artificial intelligence to allocate appropriate values and taxes payable on imported vehicles by using Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) at the trader’s zone.
Freight forwarders who took turns to speak exclusively with DAILY TREND NEWS at a meeting held at the PTML Terminal on Tuesday lamented that cars are now stranded at the port due to failure of the new customs valuation system to generate accurate value payable on imported cars.
The freight forwarding associations that came together under a joint umbrella to issue the strike notice include; International Freight Forwarders Association (IFFA) Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) National Council of Managing Director of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) Association of Registered Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (AREFFN) and APFFLON.
Speaking on behalf of the associations, Mr Abayomi Duyile, PTML Chapter Chairman of National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) said there is a lot of flaws in the new customs valuation system as there was no consideration for rebate and depreciation value in the valuation being issued on imported cars.
He lamented that for the past two weeks, agents could not clear their vehicles out of the port and this has led to huge demurrages and storage charges at shipping companies and terminal.
The freight forwarders have subsequently written a letter to the Customs Comptroller General, Col Hameed Ali, giving him 72-Hours notice to look into the new VIN Valuation system or else, the agents would shutdown the port.
Duyile said “Our challenges has to do with the VIN Valuation that was just introduced, we are not against the VIN Valuation, we are always in support of anything that would add value to the system, the new valuation system would help us to limit our physical contact with valuation officers, and this would invariably stop corruption.
“But the challenge now is that there are flaws in the new system and this is what we are against, how did customs arrive at the new value? What we noticed is that, if you calculate what we paid for vehicles last year, by this year, it supposed to have reduced based on depreciation, let’s assume you paid N500,000 for a 2010 Benz last year, and this year they are asking you to pay N1.5million, this is outrageous.
“We want full implementation of the customs law that gives us 50percent for five year old vehicles.
These vehicles are old vehicles of 13 to 15years of age, and you are expecting us to pay several millions of Naira to clear it.
“For about two weeks now, we have been having problems, the system is not working, many of our members try to make input from our bill of Laden, but the VIN system is not receiving it, we have been having this challenge for more than one week.
“Moving forward, customs should look at the system and correct the flaws, the value is too high, comparing the situation of the economy” he said
DAILY TREND NEWS gathered exclusively that ast week, the heads of valuation units of the two customs commands were summoned to Customs headquarters in Abuja and were ordered to stop issuing manual valuation and commence full implementation of VIN Valuation.
However, the freight forwarders have sid that customs ought to have test runned the VIN Valuation and ensure that the system is up to date before introducing it.
They also complained that the system was introduced by Customs without prior notice, sensitization or any circular for stakeholders.
Speaking further, Mr. Duyile who PTML Chapter Chairman of National Council of Managing Directors, said that currently “Demurrage is piling up, what we are losing is in billions, ones we cannot input, revenue would not be generated and customs too cannot get revenue. Our clients are now paying more on the vehicles because of the delay from customs.
“If it works, the VIN Valuation would lead to uniformed valuation of vehicles, compared to the former practice of under the table valuation which leads to corruption. Under the former practice, the connection with a customs officer can earn you reduced value or depending on your ability to negotiate.
“But with the VIN Valuation, I don’t need to know you as a customs officer, the system is being simplified, all vehicles from any terminal would pay the same money.
“We have written the customs headquarters, intimating CG of the challenges and proffering solutions.
In the letter, we have give customs 72hours notice, it is enough for them to look at our problems, call us for discussion and look for ways to solve it, after 72 hours we would down tools because we cannot continue with this system” he said
Buttressing him, the PTML Chapter Chairman of ANLCA, Elder Oluwole Obey said that if the challenges are not addressed soonest, agents would have no option than to go on strike.
He however expressed optimism that customs would look into the challenges soonest.
“We are not running away from VIN Valuation, but they did not consider the depreciation of vehicles, the price is supposed to be depreciating, they didn’t consider the rebate in the valuation” Elder Obey said
However, speaking with DAILY TREND NEWS, spokesman for the PTML Customs Command, Mr Muhammed Yakubu said the command held a prolonged meeting with leaders of the freight forwarding associations earlier on Tuesday for about three hours in order to sensitize them on the new system.
According to Yakubu, the VIN Valuation is a Federal government system of creating seamless valuation system on importation of vehicles and to facilitate trade.
“It has come to stay, as expected of any new system, there would be teething problems
“What happened is that many Agents were issued manual valuation before the VIN Valuation commenced, majority of these jobs were alerted, they had to be alerted because we have what is called ‘customs value’ which comes without rebate.
“So, automatically, the system downgrades the valuation that was issued manually and generates the customs value which cannot be tampered with, this is why we had a lot of challenges.
Some agents got the manual valuation and now they are asked to pay the outstanding in order to meet up.
“We have tried to see how we can intervene but, it is a system thing, you cannot tamper with the system.
It is not a PTML command issue, it is a national issue.
“There is always a lot of tension when we are rolling out a new system such as NICIS, PAAR and so on, with time, people would come to accept the VIN Valuation and it would be part of them”
“We held meeting with the stakeholders today for three hours, we enlightened them, and asked them to intimate us of any challenges they have with the new system” Yakubu stated.