By DAPO OLAWUNI
Chairman of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Lillypond Command, Mr Femi Olabanji has called on the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi to convey a Townhall meeting in order to address challenges associated with the VIN Valuation Platform of the service, which according to him is hindering easy clearance of imported vehicles at the port.
Olabanji in a chat with journalists in Lagos on Wednesday lamented that as fat as vehicle importation is concerned, the customs VIN Valuation data is no longer relevant and accurate and it is frustrating the clearing agents.
“I want to appreciate the good job the CGC has done in the family of ANLCA, he has brought peace back into the association and God will give him peace.
“However, what he has done is not enough, he should look into the challenges we are encountering with clearing of vehicles at the port, the vehicles inside container and RoRo vehicles.
“When you get your Bill of Landing, it takes you two months before you can get your job done, demurrages continue to apply from Shipping companies and terminals
“After inputing your chasis number into the Customs portal, if your vehicle is not a standard VIN, you would have to write an application to the Customs Area Controller, and to Valuation. After this, they would go and inspect the vehicle physically before issuing you value to be paid.
“Once this value is issued, the other officers at the point of taking delivery would still tell you that it is a compromise value and that your value is low. They would ask you to bring money to settle them
“Our believe is that, with the coming of the VIN Valuation, everything has been programmed on the system. How do we go back to the importer to give you N100,000 to settle Customs?
“We are using this opportunity to beg the new Comptroller General of Customs to look into his challenge confronting all agents, nobody is getting it right at all.
“Let the Customs data be proper, once we input the chasis number of vehicles, it should be able to give us the right duty payment, not that after paying your duty, another officer would consult his phone and tell you that the duty you have paid is low, this is uncalled for.
“We are not the ones that compiled the data, if customs has made a mistake, they should go back and review it again, and not for them to be giving us problems
“We the agents are ready to get it right, the CG should call the Controllers and Valuation Officers at Tin Can Customs, PTML and KLT to seat with us, the data that they gave us in the VIN Valuation, they should please honor it.
“If you are giving me value from your data, once we input the chasis number, the VIN system should be able to bring out the kind of vehicles it was, including its features, this is because no two vehicles can share the same chasis number
“The Customs should upgrade its system, no importer is ready to give you an additional N4million after costing the job for him and he has already paid, this process is giving people hypertension, let the Customs go and upgrade their system” he said
Another area which the Customs service has faulted importers and clearing agents is lack of transparency in declaration, especially in their invoice used to purchase vehicles.
According to the Customs, importers in their bid to cheat the government of revenue, usually doctored their invoice to reflect a lower price purchase.
Speaking on this, the ANLCA Chairman said “On fairly used cars, we are not getting the invoice from big companies, it is from individuals. For example, an auction car could be bought for 10,000USD and the same car could be bought for 6,000USD from an individual outside, this is because the owner might need money urgently. If I come with that invoice from that individual, the customs would reject it that it is low
“Let them come out and give us the right invoice
“I want the CG to seat down and look at this system critically, he should not allow his efforts to be rubbished. By the time agents, importers and car dealers start shouting and complaining, it would look as if the CG is not doing the right thing
“It is not everybody that is ready to cheat, there are some of us who are ready to do the right thing, we are contented with the little gain we get and we need to exit our cargoes on time.
He urged the newly elected ANLCA National Executive Committee (NECOM) to hit the ground running and address the challenges faced by majority of the members dealing in vehicle importation.