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Customs, CBN clash over e- valuation, e-invoice policy

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) have expressed divergent views over the introduction of e-valuation, e-invoice policy for import and export introduced by the apex bank.

Both agencies of government expressed contrary opinions over trade policy last week when their representatives  appeared before the House of Representatives Committees on Customs and Excise, as well as Banking and Currency to address issues arising from the introduction of the new system by the CBN

The CBN explained that the new policy would block leakages and generate more revenue for the government.

The Customs Service, however, countered their claim on grounds that it was in violation of the existing law, insisting it did not follow due process and would hinder trade as well.

In their submission, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) said the apex bank was too hasty in implementing the policy without inputs from relevant stakeholders.

The CBN had issued a circular that the new system would kick off on February 1, 2022, but the House had on January 27, 2022, suspended it and directed the apex bank to adopt a 90-day timeline for the implementation of fiscal measures to avoid destabilising effects on the economy.

Director, Trade and Exchange, Dr. Ozoemena Nnaji, who represented the CBN, said the new system was seamless and integrated with the import and export process in a manner that does not hamper any of the stakeholders.

“This would be one way of ensuring what we should earn in trade comes to us without loss of foreign and duties.

” The main aim is to ensure that we allocate our scarce foreign exchange resources to imports and we collect the export duties and transaction values due to us at valued market rates,” she stated.

She also revealed that an analysis of trade invoicing in Nigeria in 2014, shows that the potential loss of revenue to the government was approximately 2.2 billion for the year.

This amount, she says, represents four percent of total annual government revenue (as reported by the IMF), and fifteen percent (approximately) of the country’s total trade.

On his part, the Assistant Comptroller-General of the Customs Service, Galadima Saidu, said the new CBN policy was in violation of the World Trade Organisation’s Facilitation Agreement (WTO TFA) of which Nigeria is a signatory.

“The introduction of the CBN initiative is against Article 7 of General Agreement on tariff and trade 1994 and Article 1, 2 and 6 of the WTO TFA. The agreement aims for a fair, uniform, and neutral system for the valuation of goods for Customs purpose and it conforms to commercial realities and which outlaws the use of arbitrary or fictitious customs values.

Nigeria is a signatory to the WTO trade facilitation agreement. The agreement is legally binding with punitive measures that would adversely affect the Nigerian economy.”

He added that WTO agreement emphasises the need for a timeframe for the publication of any additional fees or charges, hence the CBN’s circular introducing the policy dated 21st January 2022, with an effective date of 1st February 2022 violated this.

He further pointed out that the use of bench-marking in valuation would negate the aim of the agreement on Customs valuation and would result in delays and uncertainties.

“The use of bench-marking in valuation would negate the aim of our agreement on Customs valuation and would result in delays and uncertainties. The use of benchmarking in valuation was abolished due to the dynamic nature of pricing, especially in this current time when technology is rapidly evolving,” he said.

Saidu claimed that the Customs Service was only informed through newspaper publications about the introduction of the policy and effective date of the CBN initiative, as there was no consultation done prior to the release to the public.

He also said the window which is just 10 days apart, is too short and would disrupt the trade supply chain and revenue collection

“The introduction of additional fees and or charges and procedures though the e-evaluating and e-invoicing would definitely set back Nigerian traders and adversely affect Nigerian economy which has struggled to recover from two recessions in the past five years.

It would not be in the best interest of CBN, NCS, or the Nigerian Government to proceed with any initiative that would hinder Nigerian traders from being able to compete in these trying times,” he said.

Earlier, the representative of MAN, Folurunsho Adeyemi, said there is a need to ensure the CBN doesn’t go ahead with implementing the policy without accommodating constructive inputs of stakeholders, especially those whose businesses would be negatively impacted.

This, he said, is necessary to ensure the government does not create a regime of chaos that would decelerate the already low level of activity in the economy.

The Joint Committee Chairman, Leke Abejide (ADC, Kogi), in his ruling directed the CBN and Customs Service to harmonise their differing opinions on the import/export electronic invoice policy and report back on March 17, 2022, for further action.

He also said the policy remains suspended until they report back and conclude on the matter.

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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 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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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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