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.
WCO accredits Qatar’s Customs training Centre as regional facility
The World Customs Organisation (WCO) has accredited the Customs Training Centre of the Qatar General Authority of Customs (GAC) as a regional training centre, according to an official statement.
The GAC and the WCO signed a memorandum of understanding through a video conference, accrediting the centre as working with the latest internationally approved training specifications.
In his speech on this occasion, GAC chairman Ahmed bin Abdullah al-Jamal said this is an exceptional event in view of the importance that the authority attaches to the role of training in preparing and developing the cadres.
“The accreditation also comes in recognition of the importance of strengthening the building of human resources, capabilities and raising the efficiency of customs administrations in the countries of the region to carry out their tasks and responsibilities effectively.
This, he said was critical, especially in light of the increase in the volume of global trade and the change in its patterns, and the need for more facilitation procedures, which requires enhanced international and regional cooperation and to build capacity in accordance with best practices and international standards.
Al-Jamal said that the accreditation of the training centre as a regional training centre is the result of the continuous achievements it has made since its establishment in 2007.
“It has a rich balance of experience in organising high-level regional workshops,” he noted.
“The capacity of the customs cadres in Qatar will be a qualitative addition and a distinctive contribution to building and strengthening the capabilities of customs personnel in the countries of the region.”
WCO Secretary-General, Dr Kunio Mikuriya lauded the Qatar Customs Training Centre’s achievement, and the efforts and co-operation of the GAC during the past 10 years, especially in the field of online training courses.
“The WCO has great expectations that this centre will be a leader and pioneer in the region and a distinguished role model for customs administrations across the world,” he said.
Director of the Customs Training Centre and regional co-ordinator of the Capacity Building Programme, Mubarak Ibrahim al-Buainain, said that the project to establish a regional centre was a specific goal for the GAC, with the authority, having taken steps to implement the requirements of the WCO in light of the increasing challenges facing customs authorities and administrations.
He explained the importance of this regional centre in enhancing and upgrading the requirements of the capacity building programme.
The centre will have an important role in coordinating and cooperating with relevant regional and international organisations and institutions, and building bridges based on securing specialised programmes to create a generation of qualified workers in various customs specialities.
Al-Buainain thanked the GAC chairman and other officials for their support of the Customs Training Centre.
He also thanked all the centre’s employees for their continuous efforts.
Customs warns job seekers of activities of internet fraudsters
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has warned the public against the activities of internet fraudsters extorting innocent individuals seeking employment into the service.
NCS Public Relations Officer, Comptroller Joseph Attah, gave the warning in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja.
Attah noted that the service recruitment platform was opened for two weeks in December 2021, and had closed.
He said the mandatory six months basic training for the successfully enlisted candidates into the service commenced on Jan. 10.
“Anywhere you see any link saying you should pay any amount for NCS recruitment/training programme, it is not from the customs.
“All those who claim they paid certain amounts of money for the training programme are all victims of “419” otherwise known as fraudsters because our link was opened for two weeks and has been closed.”
He said the service would continue to sensitise the public on such acts, to discourage people from patronising such fraudsters.
“Why would somebody give you a private account to pay a certain amount of money into, for a recruitment or training programme and you will pay into that account. People should be wise and flee from such,” he advised.
Some of the victims of the NCS recruitment scam said that they were fleeced by the fraudsters, who asked them to pay N40, 000 for the exercise.
One of the female victims, who preferred to be anonymous, stated that she paid N40,000 to a private account for the exercise.
It could be recalled that Attah had announced in a statement on Dec. 30, that the six months basic training for the enlisted candidates into the service would commence on Jan. 10, in its training colleges in Kano and Lagos.
Nigeria Customs increases revenue target for 2022 by 300 percent over 2021 target
—-sets N4.1 trillion revenue target for 2022 as against N1.679 trillion in 2021
—-as Apapa command collects N870.388 billion in 2021.
The Apapa Command of the Nigeria Customs Service has continued to push the frontier of revenue generation of the service when it grossed a princely sum of N870.388 billion in 2021.
This is even as the Customs High command has increased the 2022 revenue target by about 300 percent when it set N4.1 trillion as revenue target for the year.
It could be recalled that the Service set the sum of N1.679 trillion as its revenue target for 2021 but realised the sum of N2.3 trillion.
Addressing the press Thursday in Lagos, the Area Controller of Apapa Command of NCS, Comptroller Yusuf Malanta Ibrahim, disclosed that the command achieved a 68 percent increase in 2021 revenue over the previous years despite the enormous challenges faced in the trade supply chain which were occasioned by Covid-19 pandemic, high cost of fright, incessant traffic gridlock, rail construction through the Port as well as the low compliance level of some stakeholders.
The command realised the sum of N870.388 billion in 2021 as against the sum of N518.046 billion realised in 2020.
On the anti-smuggling operations, the command made a total seizure of 103 with a Duty Paid Value of N31.227 billion.
Some of the seized items include the 46.55kg of Cocaine concealed on vessels MV KARTERIA and MV CHAYANEE NAREE laden with raw sugar.
Other seized items are containers of foreign parboiled rice, tomatoes paste, second-hand clothing, unregistered pharmaceuticals like Captagon pills, Tramadol, Codeine syrup, etc.
On exports, the command, in the year under review, handled five million, three hundred and eighty metric tonnes of export cargo as against one million, three hundred metric tonnes of export cargo treated in 2020.
This was about a 110 percent increase in tonnage above the previous years.
According to Comptroller Yusuf, who was giving details of the activities of the command in 2021, the Free on Board (FOB) value for the exported items rose from $340million in 2020 to $641 million in 2021 with the naira equivalent of N245 billion.
He said that the increased export cargo treated at the command in 2021 was due to the sustained trade facilitation strategies put in place at the command, which he believed had a positive impact on export trade.
Malanta, while lauding the commitment and dedication of men and officers of the Command, declared that the Command is poised to surpass these laudable feats in 2022.
“We have diligently strengthened our risk assessment capacity through forensic system audit and dispute resolution procedures in accordance with the World Customs Organisation ( WCO) standard.
“Trade disputes were amicably resolved in an atmosphere that promoted compliance with visible results in higher revenue, indicating less cost of doing business and seizures” the Apapa Customs Chief noted.
He also acknowledged the robust industrial harmony and seamless synergy with all the Government agencies, shipping companies, terminal operators as well as the Port landlord, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
He said this harmonious collaboration has helped the command in no small measures to record the unprecedented achievements in 2021.
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