By DAPO OLAWUNI
The clearing agents operating at Lagos ports are lamenting over the grief that the newly introduced VIN Valuation protocol by the Nigeria Customs Service on imported used vehicles is causing to trade facilitation.
The service recently directed all its valuation and examination officers at various commands to verify the ‘trim’ of imported used vehicle and assign the appropriate value, instead of applying the ‘base’ value which is on the customs VIN Valuation system.
Chairman of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) at Lillypond Export Command, Mr Femi Olabanji in a chat with DAILY TREND on Monday recounted his ordeal in the hands of the PTML Customs Command.
Olabanji lamented that the Customs is no longer facilitating trade and that the VIN Valuation system is now defective, especially as it concerns issuance of value for duty payment on imported vehicles.
“When you get your Bill of Landing, you go ahead to do your VReg, after this, you send it to the Customs platform for your value. You are asked to input your vehicle chasis number and it would bring out the value you are supposed to pay.
“However, with the new system now, after inputing your chasis number, securing the value and made payment, Valuation department would tell you that what you have paid is not right, and that they are giving you a debit note (DN)
“We are not the one that determined what to pay through the customs portal in the first place.
“What happened to me was at PTML, I know that the Area Controller is not aware of it, the problem is from the Valuation department, they want to frustrate the new CG.
“Every clearing agent gives Kudos to this new CGC, he is a seasoned officer that knows what it takes to become a clearing agent, he knows what we are facing on the job. The Federal Government should look into these anomalies because agents are dying.
“What happened to me now is that the importer is not in Nigeria, I had brought out the duty for him from the Customs portal and he paid N20million by himself, the system generated the duty, after payment the Valuation department said the duty is low and that we should pay additional N4million.
“I don’t know how to reach the importer again to explain this, and the vehicle is attracting demurrage.
“The human elements in the Customs are distorting the VIN Valuation system” Olabanji alleged.
He pleaded with the Customs Comptroller General, Wale Adeniyi to come to the aid of clearing agents and ensure appropriate ammendments on the VIN Valuation Platform of the service,
He added that many clearing agents are facing similar challenges, and they are dying on daily basis due to frustration.
When DAILY TREND contacted the Public Relations Officer of the PTML Customs Command, Chief Superintendent of Customs, Yakubu Mohammed, he said that what the customs inputed into its VIN valuation portal is the “Base Value” of vehicles.
According to him, the system does not take cognizance of the special features of different models of the particular vehicle and that sometimes, these luxurious features normally increase the duty payable on these cars.
“What we have on the VIN valuation platform is the base value. A vehicle has different specifications, for example, if you are importing a Range Rover, we have the Range Rover HSE, we have the Range Rover Evogue, we have Range Rover Auto Biography and so on
“These cars are expensive than the other, depending on the model, engine capacity and specifications.
However, what we have on the customs system is the base value, which is the minimum
“The clearing agent is expected to specify the particular model he is importing, there is a provision for ‘Transaction Value’ on the customs VIN Valuation system where the agent or importer is required to input how much he purchased the vehicles, however the clearing agents are not usually sincere
“So, after the value is given from the system, we carryout proper examination, and if it is discovered the vehicle is more expensive than what you inputed into the system, you would be given an additional DN to pay” he said
The PTML Customs PRO noted that the clearing agents have been sensitized severally at different forums, but that some of them prefer to cheat the system.
Recall that the Customs Service through its National Public Relations Officer, Abdullahi Maiwada on Monday stated that valuation officers should endeavour to take note of the specifications and models of vehicles and apply appropriate value payable, and that they must not rely solely on base value inputed on the VIN Valuation only.
The statement issued by Maiwada says “These trim numbers are critical in identifying distinct versions or tiers within a specific car model. They delineate varying configurations, features, and levels of equipment associated with the model.
“Furthermore, different trim levels offer diverse technological advancements, interior and exterior features, and, occasionally, distinct engine options.
“For instance, a car model could feature trim levels such as “Base,” “Sport,” “Luxury,” and “Premium.” Each of these trim levels might present differing combinations of attributes, such as premium leather seats, advanced infotainment systems, upgraded wheels, and enhanced safety features, among other enhancements. This results in an elevated value for the vehicle compared to the base model.
“To ensure fairness and accuracy, the NCS mandates that imported used vehicles with trim numbers undergo valuation at the Valuation Seat after a thorough examination. This process aims to establish the vehicle’s appropriate and precise Customs value”