The founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF); Dr Boniface Aniebonam has lampooned the committee that was constituted by the Nigeria Customs Service to ensure uniformity of duties payable on vehicles, he described the committee as unreal and one that lacks the credibility to stand.
Dr. Aniebonan disclosed this recently in a chat with Shipping Position Daily in Lagos when reacting to the committee which has the National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Custom Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu, some other members of the association and three Deputy Comptrollers General (DCGs) of Customs as members.
He doubted the seriousness of the committee, saying that it will be difficult for customs to form a committee of that status without involving any member of NAGAFF even as he said that freight forwarding associations do not have any role to play in the revenue of the customs.He said that the associations can only come in if the service comes up with any policy that is not facilitating trade, adding that it is the prerogative of the customs if they want to benchmark cargo planning.
“Does the committee suggest to you that it is a reality; I don’t think the committee is real. You cannot form a committee of such policy matter with only ANLCA, what does that mean. But the truth is, what is the committee all about, what role is the association going to play on revenue matter? I think we should know our bounds if customs wants to benchmark cargo planning it is their prerogative, it is an internal matter. So in that sense, I don’t think there is any need involving freight forwarders to do what, on the imposition of revenue or what. I don’t think it requires us and that is the truth that will be meddling with internal matter of the customs. If customs come out with a policy that is not facilitating trade we can raise issues”, he stated.
He also said that what should be discussed is not the uniformity of duties, but ways to avoid abusing the procedure by some individuals.He said that the laws guiding vehicle duties and other things in the ports have been properly laid down and that what is left is for people to follow the procedures to enhance trade facilitation.
“To me, the uniformity of duties is laughable I don’t make sense the procedure to be followed in assessing the vehicles is well laid out by the customs what we should be discussing is inherent abuse in it. It is the abuse just like that matter on the ease of doing business the position of NAGAFF is clear on that. Ease of doing business is statutory, the laws have been laid down for people to follow and when we follow those laws business will be free”
He also called on total compliance to the laws guiding trade facilitation for easy flow of trade especially in the ports, adding that the ease of doing business was totally abused by some members of the committee.
“When people are not compliant you don’t expect business to flow. So I don’t want us to be chasing shadow; if we want to look at issues we look at it from a perspective. Like the ease of doing business; at a stage it is like committee members started making laws when they don’t have the statutory responsibilities to make laws, you are not National Assembly. What the ease of doing business simply means is removing human element created matters that tend to obstruct the process of doing business and the system will flow”
He urged the valuation officers of the customs to keep to their responsibilities of ensuring that there is uniformity of duties on vehicles even as he blames non uniformity of duties to inherent abuse.
“The customs have laid down how customs duty will be paid and collected and matters of vehicle for instance the valuation office of the customs have that responsibility and they have their data base. What is going on there is inherent abuse and wrong declarations which again would have been revealed during the physical examination but again there is compromise”, he concluded.