By DAPO OLAWUNI
Fresh facts have emerged that vehicle importers at Nigerian RoRo ports have abandoned releasing of their vehicles following the confusion that was created by the Nigeria Customs Service and its refusal to give proper explanation on its reduction of import duty from 35% to 20%
DAILY TREND reported that the Customs had on Friday last week adjusted the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET) trade portal on vehicles under HSCode 8703 and reduced it to 20% Duty rate without any official communication to the stakeholders.
Our correspondent learnt that the Customs Area Comptrollers and Senior officers at various commands were also in a state of confusion as no communication was passed to them from customs headquarters.
Contrary to statement issued by the National Public Relations Officer of Customs, Timi Bomodi that there was no reduction in duty rate for vehicles, findings by DAILY TREND at the Tin Can Island Port on Monday showed that the Customs systems was still reflecting 20% duty payment.
Since Friday, clearing agents to importers have refused to release vehicles, even though some of them have paid duty based on 20%
The customs valuation officers were reported to be issuing 35% to clearing agents in order to play safe, but on the other hand, they urged the agents to pay according to the 20% on the system.
Speaking with our correspondent, Chairman of one of the freight forwarding associations who pleaded anonymity stated that “Those that have been paying duty based on 20%, since last week Friday, none of them have released their vehicles, they are still at the port. Some of the bonded terminals like Classic Bonded Terminal are already putting alerts on the job
“Nobody has been able to define what the 20% reduction is all about, the customs failed to communicate with us, we don’t know if the 20% on the system has come to stay or not, for now, nobody knows what is going on.
“Even the Customs Area Comptrollers cannot say exactly what is going on, so it is difficult to conclude upon”
“I need to get detailed information before I can brief you. I spoke with the DC Valuation and he said that 20% duty is in the system and that people should be paying”
“The customs are giving 35% value, but in the system, we are urged to be paying 20%, so we are at a dilemma and we have to be very careful”
However, Vice President of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Dr Kayode Farinto has advised all freight forwarders not to capture their vehicle with 35% rate of duty.
According to him, the changes in the customs system and subsequent reduction in duty to 20% was never done in an error as claimed by the customs spokesman.
“The true position is that the rate of duty on used vehicles with HS code 87033320 is now 20%. Hence, we advice all freight forwarders not to capture with 35% again.
“Secondly, even the HS code of Fully Built vehicles that agents used last week (ie HS 87033319 ) has been changed on the system to 20% this morning.
“It is obvious that the
management of NCS has flouted the WCO directives to always inform the stakeholders and carry them along on issues of operations basically because she wants to meet her self imposed targets by pretending not to know that the trading community deserve to be informed of any changes on it.
“We have advised and urged the Federal Ministry of Finance, the supervisory Ministry of NCS to always put the freight forwarding associations on notice on changes as regards operational matter and policy issues since the present management team has failed in her responsibility to do so.
“The trading community has the legitimate rights to know of such changes. We thank you for your patient, while we await them (NCS) to issue a formal circular in this regards”, he said