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Customs grants over N1.4trn duty waivers in three years

CGC, Ali

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has granted over N1.4trillion as waivers on imported goods in the last three years.

Import duty waivers, concessions, and exemptions are used by governments across the globe to protect local industries, boost the economy and create jobs but they have typically been abused in the country and have become a conduit pipe to syphon public funds.

Between January 2019 and December last year, the sum of N992.9 billion was granted as waivers by the Customs.

Over N400 billion, sources at the Customs Headquarters said, has been granted as waivers by the Service between January and October this year.

The source urged the Senate to amend the Customs And Excise Management Act (CEMA), noting that the amendment will take care of under-declaration, which he said, was introduced by some officials of the government to circumvent duty payments with some importers.

The NSC official said the amendment would create a very decent and respected Customs Service outfit devoid of suspicion and unnecessary invasion of their statutory job by some politicians.

“Over 35 percent of the total tax relief on imported goods is the relief granted on import duties, the Common External Tariff Levy accounts for nearly 30 per cent of the tax relief, 23 per cent of the tax relief is granted on VAT.”

The Service, it was further learnt,  also recorded about 5,000 seizures between the first 10 months of this year.

The N1.4 trillion, it was gathered, includes the over N400 billion recorded between January and October this year, the N213.1b recorded in 2019 and N779.7b waived last year.

Data from the 2022-2024 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper revealed the figures in 2019 and that of last year.

A member of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Dr Kayode Farinto said, while import duty waivers are used by the leaders of other countries to protect the economic base of their countries, mostly, in protecting local industries, creating jobs, and promoting exports, the reverse is the case in Nigeria.

”Apart from abusing the waivers, there is nothing specifically to show for it in the last 20 years”, he declared.

A breakdown of the waivers granted in 2019 showed that exemptions on import charges stood at N127.7 billion; surcharge, which consists of seven percent import duty, was N8.6 billion; and Common External Tariff Levy, N4.6 billion; Comprehensive Import Supervision Scheme, N2.6 billion; while exemptions under the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Trade Liberalisation Scheme was N4.8 billion.

Other customs exemptions recorded within the year are Iron Levy, N393.2 million; National Automotive Council Levy N233.6 million and import Value Added Tax (VAT) which stood at N64.4 billion.

For last year, reliefs granted were estimated at N780 billion, comprising N600 billion from waivers of import duties and N180 billion from VAT on import duties.

An importer, Mr Segun Adetula, said MDAs are an integral part of the Nigerian economy and therefore should be subjected to the same rules that apply to other economic players, otherwise, they could become a major source of distortions in the economy.

He said a discriminatory or selective import duty might create incentives for imports by the MDAs to the detriment of locally produced goods, adding that import duty waiver or tariff concession should be targeted at sectors or products that are strategic from an economic, social, or security perspective

The National President, Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics in Nigeria (APFFLON), Otunba Frank Ogunojemite, said there was nothing special with the MDAs flouting of the waivers, noting that the shipping companies flouted government directives on rent waivers for importers even during COVID-19.

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Customs

National Assembly summons Customs, CBN, Finance Ministry, Webb Fontaine over unutilised scanners at ports

The Eyewitness reporter
The joint committee on Customs and Excise of the National Assembly has summoned the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col.(retd) Hameed Ali to appear before it to explain the controversial contract for the provision of scanning machines at the ports and why they have not been functional despite enormous resources committed into their procurement.
To join the Customs boss for questioning are the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Mr Godwin Emefiele, and the Minister of Finance,  Mrs Zainab Ahmed as well as the officials of Webb Fontaine, the IT providers.
The apparently angry members of the joint committee, who gave the directive during their investigative hearing on Sunday in Abuja, said they were miffed by the non-utilization of the scanners procured at huge costs by the federal government.
According to Francis Alimikhena, the Joint Committee Chairman, the national assembly will not brood absenteeism or representations from those summoned as the matter is of utmost economic importance to the country.
“We do not want to see any representation. We want to take a decision about Nigeria. This is about the revenue of the country.”

“We want to see the minister, the CG customs, the CBN governor, President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF),” declared the committee chairman.

“We do not want to see any representation. We want to take a decision about Nigeria. This is about the revenue of the country. Webb Fontaine is essential in this matter. They have made serious money in this country.”

Mr Alimikhena said the contract was given to Webb Fontaine by the Finance Ministry to provide the IT infrastructure for the NCS for scanning.

Not happy with the development, he frowned upon the absence of the Minister, the CBN governor and other stakeholders involved at the Sunday investigative hearing.

He however asked that the customs, CBN, ministry of finance, Webb Fontaine and other invited stakeholders to appear before the committee at the next hearing slated for Thursday, September 29th, 2022, warning that the committee would not attend to any representatives as the issue at stake involved revenue generation to the country.

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Customs

Customs collects N1.7trn  revenue in 8 months

CGC, Ali

 

–embarks on aggressive revenue hunts to meet target

The Eyewitness reporter

The Nigeria Customs Service has collected a whooping sum of  N1,755,386,486,390.02  as revenue in the first eight months of the year spanning January and August.

The service made the highest monthly earnings of N241,903,781,854.46 in August as the service intensifies its aggressive revenue drive to meet the expectations of the Federal Government which has come to rely on the revenue from the service to fund its critical project.

This follows the diversification of government to non-oil sectors and expands its tax base due to the dwindling revenue from the oil sector.
The revenue in the first eight months of 2022 is N363,436,321,614.95 higher than N1,391,950,164,775.97 the customs collected in the corresponding period of 2021.

Abuja has increased its focus on non-oil revenue sources, prompting higher expectations from revenue collection agencies such as the NCS, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), among others.

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Customs

Why we adopted direct auction sale for scrap vehicles—-Customs

seized vehicles waiting to be auctioned

 

The Eyewitness reporter
The Nigeria Customs Service has explained the reason why it recently disposed of scrap vehicles under its control through the direct auction sale method.
In an exclusive interview with our reporter, the National Public Relations Officer (NPRO) of the Service, Deputy Comptroller Timi Bomodi, explained that no sane person could purchase those damaged vehicles for use except those who melt them into metal as raw materials.
” Yes, the vehicles we auctioned through direct sales were all scraps. They are vehicles used by smugglers which are purposely built for their nefarious activities.
“These vehicles are damaged beyond repairs and the service could not upload such vehicles on its auction portal to the general public.
“That was why we sold them directly at very ridiculously low prices to iron smelting companies who will melt them into iron.
“These vehicles litter all our commands in the country and are constituting an environmental nuisance.
“So we needed to evacuate them from those places for the safety of our officers who are constantly being faced with the danger of attacks from snakes and other dangerous reptiles which hide under the cover of these scrap vehicles”, Bomodi declared.
He said his explanation was meant to clarify what he described as false information and misconception being peddled to the public by auctioneers.
The auctioneers have accused the Customs of branding about 6000 seized vehicles as scraps before selling them off at cheap prices to their cronies.
The aggrieved auctioneers have further claimed that the Customs conducted the auction of the vehicles without open competitive bidding as it’s enshrined in the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) Act, 2007.
“So far, about 6,000 vehicles have been sold to their cronies through the so-called direct auction allocation.
“The vehicles, which could have fetched the government huge revenue, were sold as scraps at giveaway prices.

“We all know that it is a ploy to enrich their favoured contractors at the expense of the government.

” The government is being denied the revenue it would have realised from open competitive auctions.
” If this government is serious, the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali should be answering tough questions from either the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) or the National Assembly by now,” the Auctioneers claimed.
They further alleged that instead of selling the confiscated goods through public auctions as mandated by the law, the NCS had been selecting the dealers it sells to.
“What the BPP Act says
Section 55 (3) (5) of the BPP Act stipulates that open competitive bidding shall be the primary source of receiving offers for the purchase of any public property offered for sale.
“For the purposes of this Act, public property is defined as resources in the form of tangible and non-tangible assets (ranging from serviceable to the unserviceable).

“According to a letter from the NCS to a company, AMEX West Africa Limited and dated March 25, 2022, with reference number: NCS/ADM/MGT/012/S.2/C, signed by the Chairman, Direct Disposal of Scraps Committee, Comptroller A.D Sanusi, titled, ‘Direct auction allocation of scrap vehicles and other items,’ it was indicated therein that 338 vehicles were sold for N3,380,000 through direct auction allocation in Abuja.
It read, ‘’I am directed to inform you that the Comptroller-General of Customs, acting on the provisions of Customs and Exercise Management (Disposal of goods) Act, CAP C46, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, hereby allocates the under-listed 338 lots of various scrap vehicles domiciled at Katsina State Area Command to your company as auction sales for the purpose of disposal, smelting and fabrication into raw materials for production valued at N3,380,000 only.

“All vehicles disposed of must be evacuated from the premises within 10 working days after payment or risk forfeiture.

” Furthermore, you are to note the following: Application for replacement of allocated vehicles would not be entertained. All allocation letters transferred or sold by the allottee to a third party shall be at the buyer’s risk.’’
However, Bomodi stated that the auctioneers were only being mischievous and clever by half in their claims as the vehicles auctioned through the direct disposal method were actually scraps and not branded as such.
He disclosed that Customs still conducts open bidding auction exercises on its auction portal.
“The last time we conducted the auction of serviceable vehicles on our portal was early this year and another round of the exercise will soon be conducted” he disclosed.

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