The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and freight forwarders have lampooned the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) over failure to have a uniform tariff on imported used vehicles.
Checks by Shipping Position Daily revealed that tariff on imported vehicles differs from one command to another. This is even as stakeholders have described the discrepancies in valuation as an hindrance to ease of doing business at the port.
Speaking with our correspondent recently, the Director General, Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Dr. Muda Yusuf, noted that lack of uniform tariff makes investors lose confidence in investing in the country, while stressing that there is need to harmonize all the tariffs, so that importers and those dealing with automobiles will have the confidence to invest in the country.
He said: “Lack of uniform tariff is not good in the confidence of investors, because it creates uncertainty, you are not sure what exactly the tariff would be ultimately, if there is no uniformity, and there is no reason for uniformity not to exist, because the tariff policy is very clear on automobile sector.
“I think there is a levy component, and a tariff component and it has been clearly documented, what I think most often happens is the valuation raising from port to port even from officer to officer, if a particular version of vehicle is particular value, if you go to another port it will be a different value and it is generally not good for the system.
“It is better that we harmonize all the tariffs so that importers and those dealing with automobiles can have the confidence that they don’t have to go around bribing people or saying that they should take their vehicle to a particular terminal. Uniformity is good for certainty; it is also good for the confidence of those who want to invest”, he said.
Also speaking to our correspondent, the Vice President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Kayode Farinto, noted that lack of uniform tariff encourages corruption and encourages human contact.
He alleged that men of Nigeria Customs Service, have refused to adhere to uniform tariff despite the Comptroller General directives for a uniform tariff.
He alleged that the current system encourages corruption. “It encourages corruption, people believe that there should still be human contact, I want to believe that’s why we don’t have uniform tariff, because the CG directed that there should be a uniform tariff, but because Nigeria Customs Service is not practicing in line with international best practice, I believe it’s encouraging corruption” he said.
Also speaking, former chairman of Tin Can port chapter of ANLCA; Prince Segun Oduntan, also questioned why it is difficult for the NCS to come up with a uniform tariff, he said lack of uniform tariff makes business difficult, even as he pointed out that in Ghana there is a uniform tariff for all vehicles.
“We are not getting it right, if they give us a uniform tariff just like some general goods and machineries. it is okay by us , why is Customs unable to provide a hard or soft copy tariff for people clearing vehicles, so that they can know how much to pay as per duty? If you go practice in Ghana, once you have your green number of the vehicle, once you indicate it, your duty assessment would come out and you will know how much to pay”
“When you don’t have a standard tariff that you can go through, how to do your business becomes difficult, that is why people look for ways to cut corners. If you have a template that you are operating with, all these things will be limited, all this physical interference would not be there, it would have reduced to about 50 to 60%”, he added.
However, in a chat with our correspondent, the Public Relations Officer of the NCS at Tin Can Command, Mr, Uche Ejeiseme argued that there is no differences in tariff for imported automobiles, stressing that the condition of the vehicle will determine what will be paid as duty. He informed that the discrepancies only come into being when accidented vehicles are imported.
“Don’t forget that some of these vehicles come in different forms and conditions, it won’t be completely right to insinuate that Customs does not operate a uniform tariff, the truth remains that where you sometimes notice some form of little short falls is just for vehicles”, he explained.
He added that, “I would say we operate a uniform tariff for vehicles, but it depends on the angle you want to look at it from, if you bring used vehicles; it is 35% of the tax base, so it is expected that standard ought to be followed, but sometimes if you also bring another category; for instance vehicles that are accidented, you don’t expect that kind of near uniformity, because the value is very dependent on the condition of that vehicle”
“So if you are talking about the proximate commands like PTML and Tin Can, if you look at it, I don’t think there is so much difference, that it will imply that there is no uniformity in valuation” he argued.