Imported used vehicles at Berger Automobile market last week
The Assistant Controller General (ACG) of Customs in charge of Zone ‘A’, of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), ACG, Kaycee Ekezie, has explained that the service could not auction new vehicles that were seized because of the difficulty in getting buyers for them if auction.
Ekezie, gave this explanation last week when she hosted members of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agent (ANLCA) who paid a courtesy visit to her office in Lagos.
While acknowledging the fact that the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd) is aware that there are some vehicles that people ignorantly bought without knowing that customs duty was not properly paid or not paid at all on them, she however advised that those people should write to the service notifying it of the status of their vehicles and that they would be allowed to come up and pay duty on such vehicles.
The Customs boss also pleaded with members of ANLCA to ensure that the appropriate duties are paid on imported vehicles before exiting the ports.
“We are appealing to you now, please, tell your members, if you buy a car and you find out or suspect it has not been properly cleared, please say so, you will be allowed to do so. You can write through me and I will pass it to them but you know that it will look somehow for us to go to the car stand and tell them go and pay, that means we are legalizing smuggling. Please beg them to stop”, she said.
She advised the government to place higher duties on imported old vehicles into the country than new vehicles in other to encourage people to buy new vehicles, even as she charged Nigerians to patronize homemade automobile brands
“Customs has written its own position concerning these tariffs on cars, the CET says, traditionally that as it was with the customs, 20%. It is just because this policy that we are doing 35%. Even Picanto that I can put in my hand, before, you know it used to be 2.9% and below, engine capacity was 20%, then 3.0 upwards pays 35%. Then after that 35% for brand new car, you are seeing another 35% on it making 70%. That is the policy.
“If we don’t want used vehicles in this country, why don’t we make used vehicles to pay higher? Why don’t we even patronize the locally assembled cars? Why can’t we patronize Innoson since he produces all the brands?” she queried.
The ACG fingered the inability of the service to be carried along at the level of policy formulation only to be handed the policy for implementation after it must had been completed, as one of the problems in the sector.
She however added that most times, the service on receiving the policy for implementation from the federal government always write its position on such policy which may or may not be considered.
“Like the auto policy, that one, whenever I remember it, it makes me cry because I know that when I joined customs newly, if you want to buy a car, you just go to Tincan, that car park ‘C’, the importer is right there, you bargain. You might say oh, I am going to buy Honda, then you end up buying Corolla because everything is there and as you buy it, your people are there with their typewriters, within hours, your car is outside the gate. You have paid duty and you have released”, she recalled.
She accused policies as the reason why some importers prefer to use neighboring countries instead of the nation’s seaport.
“What happened? How did it get to this that you bring in a car, it will take you one week? And what made all these importers run to the neighboring countries? It is all policies. But I tell you again, these policies are not done to punish anybody, the policies are always to make the society better than it is, protect our young industries and look into areas we have not been looking into”
Ekezie, said that the problem is not only with the implementation of the policy but right from where the policy came from.
“The problem is not only with implementation, but right from where the policies came from, you will see somersault otherwise why should somebody bring in an item that is supposed to be 10% and pay 5% or 0% duty on the item and then tomorrow, because customs is now pointing out that this is not supposed to be 0% or 5%, but 10%, then next tomorrow, there will be government waiver on it. Thank God the Ministry of Finance has said that there is no more waivers after the goods have arrived”, she added.
Meanwhile the President of ANLCA, Tony Iju Nwabunike, pleaded with the service to consider re-opening of payment of duty on imported vehicles that have already found their ways into the country through unapproved routes.
Nwabunike, who was represented by his Vice, Kayode Farinto, advised that such payments should be made through a dedicated channel at the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) in conjunction with ANLCA, so as to retrieve almost lost revenue as well as safeguard their members from continuous hacking and misuse of their licenses.
Nwabunike also said that smuggling was only a symptom of a problem, stating that closing of a border would not solve smuggling into the country.