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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Maiwada, Customs’ chief spokesman, receives diadem over his public relations prowess
The Eyewitness Reporter
The National Public Relations of the Nigeria Customs Service, Chief Superintendent of Customs, Abdullahi Aliyu Maiwada, has been honored with the prestigious ‘Spokesperson of the Year’ Award by Spokesperson’s Digest, a division of Image Merchant Public Relations.
The event, held in Abuja and attended by distinguished personalities, showcased Maiwada’s exceptional public relations contributions and unwavering commitment to the Nigeria Customs Service.
In an exclusive post-award speech, Maiwada shared insights into the driving forces behind his success.
“This accolade not only acknowledges my dedication but also inspires me to elevate my contributions further.
” My motivation comes from a deep passion for my work and the unwavering support of my dedicated team,” he stated emphatically.
Known for his dynamic leadership style, Maiwada attributed the success to the collaborative efforts of his staff.
He added, “Today’s recognition is a testament to the collective efforts of my team, serving as a motivating force to strive for excellence.”
Beyond the immediate team, Maiwada expressed gratitude for the motivational guidance he receives from the Comptroller General of Customs Bashir Adewale Adeniyi and his Management Team.
“He highlighted his belief in extracting the best from his work, adding, “I believe in getting the best out of my work, and this passion, combined with the support of my team and the guidance from my elders, has been the driving force behind my success.”
The National PRO, recognized not just for his professional acumen but also for his commitment to mentorship, urged organizers to continue appreciating the dedication and enthusiasm of media practitioners and agencies.
He emphasized the need to sustain a culture of recognition for those making significant contributions in their respective fields.
In his closing remarks, Maiwada extended heartfelt appreciation to the Assistant Comptroller-General of Customs Headquarters Adeogun Alajogun, who represented the CGC at the event for his unwavering support, acknowledging his pivotal role in his accomplishments as the direct supervisor of the Nigeria Customs Service Public Relations Unit.
The ceremony not only celebrated an individual’s achievement but also highlighted the collaborative spirit and dedication within the Nigeria Customs Service, reinforcing their commitment to excellence in public relations.
Customs promises to mitigate impact of increase in duty exchange rate through trade facilitation
The latest duty exchange rate has since been reflected on the Customs portal.
Before the latest increase, the exchange rate for customs duty in June was N420 per dollar before it was jerked up to N775 per dollar in July.
Shortly after that, it jumped to N778 per dollar before the latest increase to N951.941 per dollar.
However, the customs has explained that it would ensure that there is a minimum delay in the customs process in order to ensure customs agents take delivery of their cargo without incurring demurrage.
Explaining the position of the customs on the increase yesterday, Comptroller Dera Nnadi, the Tin Can Customs Area controller, said there was little the customs could do over the fiscal and monetary policies which he said are within the purview of the federal government while the customs merely implements them.
Nnadi, however, promised that the customs, especially his command, Tin Can Island Port, would try to optimise its service delivery by facilitating trade to minimize the anticipated delays and resultant demurrage in order to mitigate the effects of the sudden increase.
“We are all affected, including the customs officers, by the increase.
“There is no separate supermarket where they sell customs bread”
” We as Nigeria Customs officers, just like other Nigerians, woke up this morning( Yesterday, December 7th) to find out that the exchange rate, which is the yardstick for the collection of customs duty, has been jerked up.
” Before June/ July, it was 420 per dollar, by July, it jumped to N775 to dollars, shortly after, it jumped to N778 to a dollar and this morning (yesterday, December 7th), it was increased to N951.941per dollar.
” We understand the implication of this on trade, bearing in mind letters of credit have been opened, contracts have been signed, supplies have been made, and people have negotiated business transactions based on the previous exchange rate.
” And we recognize the import of this exchange rate on trade.
” We recognize what the Nigeria business community is going through but there is little we can do as customs service about the fiscal and monetary policies.
” Our role is to implement them, we do not make these policies and we align ourselves with government decisions.
” Every decision taken by government is for the collective interest of the nation and we expect that we must all abide by it.
” As Customs, what we can do to mitigate the impact of what the trading public is going to go through in the next few days because of the increase in the exchange rate is to optimise our service delivery where there are expected delays in customs process to make up for this sudden increase.
“We will try to facilitate trade so that whatever little money you would have paid on demurrage, you can now use it to make up for this sudden increase and that is what I can manage.
“We do this because if the agents go back to their importers and ask them to raise additional funds to augment the one they have paid because of the sudden increase, the importers may find it difficult to raise the money and there will be delay and the attendant demurrage.
” So what we can do as customs service, is to minimize these expected delays through facilitation of trade.
” The Nigeria Customs Service cannot manage the other aspect of price increase because that is the function of federal government directive” Comptroller Nnadi explained in a very comprehensive manner to exonerate the customs service from these sudden increases in the exchange rates.
He however believed that most of the trade activities in Nigeria are being heavily subsidized by the government which makes citizens of the neighbouring countries cross the borders to Nigeria to buy goods in Nigeria.
” But I am by no means justifying the incessant and sudden increments in tariff.
” But Nigerians must be patriotic enough to obey government policies when they are issued because every government policy is issued in the best interest of the people” the Customs chief sermonises.
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