Saturday, July 2, 2022 2:51 pm
The Nigeria maritime sector key players consisting of the freight forwarders and other stakeholders have lamented the hasty and poor implementation of the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), valuation policy employed by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS). They cause challenges for general seamless transactional activities in the clearing process at the Nigerian ports.
Importers and customs terminal operators counted losses during a round table session organized by the Maritime Journalist Association of Nigeria (MAJAN) at their Calcutta secretariat at Apapa in Lagos on Tuesday 28 June 2022
The concerned stakeholders decried the vehicle clearance policy, which according to them, has left thousands of automobiles abandoned at the ports by their owners.
The freight forwarders roundly lamented and condemned the unfortunate situation at the ports currently.
They alleged that the Customs coerced importers and their agents into a policy that was haphazardly packaged, which is now leading to all stakeholders, including Customs alike, being the losers.
The forum observed that presently, the revenue Customs had projected to realise through the policy, otherwise called VIN-valuation, has been on a downward trend, with the terminals littered with abandoned vehicles, even as the cost of automobiles has shot to the rooftop in the market.
The freight forwarders complained that the major hitch in the policy was the assessment of the non-standard vehicles – that is those imported automobiles whose data had not been inputted into the Customs portal – saying their duty rate had been outrageous.
On the other hand, they said for those vehicles with 17 digits, which data had been captured in Customs’ portal, there were no issues in their duty assessment, awarding the process of clearing them at ports to over 90 per cent pass mark.
They further observed that some brands of vehicles such as Mercedes Benz 2003 M model and BMW with 17 digits were yet to be inputted into the system, thereby making their clearance difficult.
George Okafor, the Chairman, PTML Chapter, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), suspected that the policy of the reduction of vehicle duty from 35 to 20 per cent may have resulted in likely revenue loss which has made customs put in place the VIN valuation without adequate groundwork to avoid hitches.
Okafor informed that the initial agreement was that the service would test-run the policy in a particular port for some time before making it universal but that was not so.
The stakeholders expressed worries and appealed that Federal Government through the service should review the initial arrangement of the policy which was to peg the age limit of vehicles at 12 years as against nine years, which is now in place without any prior notification.
Similarly, the PTML terminal manager also complained about the drop in output, according to the management even the Customs officers are with the piled-up demurrage.
The stakeholders generally observed that the huge demurrage and high duty had caused importers to abandon the vehicles in the port as the business had become unprofitable.