VIN Valuation: Customs Bomb Freight Forwarders, Says They Don’t Attend Trainings, Sensitization

L-R: ACG Saidu Galadima, ACG Modupe Aremu, ACG Tariff and Trade, and Commandant of Customs Training College Ikeja at the stakeholders meeting held on Tuesday

…Agrees to Modify New Valuation System for Vehicles

By DAPO OLAWUNI

The management of the Nigeria Customs Service has lampooned freight forwarders, saying that whenever the Service calls for sensitization and training programmes, the Chief Executives stay in their office and send their “boys” to the training.

Speaking at a truce meeting between Customs and freight forwarders to address controversies surrounding the newly introduced Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) Valuation at the Customs Training College Ikeja, Lagos on Tuesday, Customs Cordinator of Zone A, Assistant Comptroller General, Modupe Aremu made the allegations.

She expressed shock that freight forwarders were protesting against the VIN Valuation at this point, even though several sensitization and training have been done for them on workability of the new system.

According to her “When trainings are called, the CEO’s of the licenses don’t show up, they would ways send their boys from the office who do not understand or ask questions”

Notwithstanding, ACG Aremu after being inundated by the numerous complaints from the freight forwarders agreed that customs would look inwards and modify the controversial VIN Valuation system.

When asked if the VIN Valuation would be suspended in order to clear the backlog of trapped cargoes at the port, she said the platform cannot be suspended and that it has come to stay.

Aremu promised that customs would communicate its position to the agents before Friday, adding that the service is holding its management meeting on Wednesday to determine its next action.

“We have decided to take their grievances and complaints back to management for a peaceful resolution. We are going to modify the system and it would take care of all their issues.
“They (freight forwarders) were actually trained on three sections, we didn’t expect this king of response from them on introduction of the VIN system, however, we would still go back to our drawing board and modify some of the issues they have raised.

“The VIN has come to stay, we are not suspending it, we would just modify” she said

Speaking further on the trainings, she said “When we have these trainings, they leave it to the boys in the office that cannot ask questions.

“We are now going to do it zone by zone, in order to sensitize and educate them properly on this VIN Valuation method and other introductions going forward from now”

Corroborating the ACG Modupe on this, the Assistant Comptroller General of Customs ICT/Modernization, ACG Saidu Galadima said Customs have trained freight forwarders on the VIN Valuation, but that as usual, 95% of them never attended.

He assured that Customs would revisit the system based on all information provided by the agents.

He however warned that for the system to work effectively, freight forwarders must enhance their level of integrity, alleging that freight forwarders are in the habit of manipulating the Customs system.

Also speaking, the Assistant Comptroller General Tariff and Trade, Hamza Gumi stated that clearing agents must accompany their vehicle import documentation with; export declaration, self contact and invoice.

Speaking earlier, Chairman of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) at Tin Can Island Port Chapter, Alhaji Muhammed Mojeed lamented that a vehicle that hitherto pays N400,000 as surface value has now been hiked up to N1.7million.

“It is not that we are against the VIN Valuation system, but we want Customs to understand that there is a way we normally obtain the value before now, why can’t they input what they give us before into the system?

“If we had not gone on that protest, this meeting would not have taken place” he stated.

He appealed that customs should give a grace period of three months for the freight forwarders to evacuate most of the vehicles trapped inside the port as a result of the VIN Valuation system.

Also speaking, Mr Abayomi Duyile quarried how customs arrived at the data it has inputed into the VIN Valuation system to determine value of vehicles.

“We have found out that the Customs itself has contravened its laws by not putting into consideration the legal notice 30 that gave us up to 50% rebate on used vehicles.

“How can say you are using artificial intelligence to determine prices of vehicles coming from Canada, United States, Europe and Asia?

“A venza 2013 that has market price of N7million, by the time we checked the customs VIN Valuation system, it was giving us $21,880USD
The CIF was N8.9 Nigerian price”

“We have found a lot of flaws in the system and we are rejecting it in its totality” he said

Meanwhile, the freight forwarders have vowed to continue the protest at the Nigerian Ports of PTML Terminal and the Tin Can Island Port until they hear feedbacks from the customs management.

The freight forwarders protest commenced since Monday last week and it has so far crippled economic and commercial activities at the port.

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