LCCI flays Customs over hike in invoice values

The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has petitioned the Presidency and the Coordinating Minister for the Economy against the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) over allegation of arbitrary increase of the value of invoice of imported items from 50 to 100 percent to drive up collectable revenue.

LCCI also complained against the exclusion of some genuine transactions by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from the bi-weekly foreign exchange auctions via the Retail Dutch Auction System (RDAS).

In a statement, Alhaji Remi Bello, President, LCCI, said, “The LCCI has been inundated with complaints by importers of deliberate and arbitrary revision of the value of cargoes by the Customs driven perhaps by the quest to generate more revenue in line with its new target.

“We do not believe that this is the best way to improve revenue generation by the NCS. There should be a credible ground to dispute the value of invoice on imports. Most of the prices are global prices and are easily verifiable. But in many of the instances, the actions of the NCS have no bearing with these global prices. Regrettably there is no dependable dispute resolution mechanism in place. Invoice values have been arbitrarily jerked up by between 50 to 100 percent.

“Many importers including reputable companies have suffered from this arbitrary revision in value. The result is that investors are compelled to pay higher duties and other charges without any justifiable reason.

“We request the Presidency and the Coordinating Minister for the Economy to look urgently into this issue. There should also be an independent dispute resolution mechanism in place that could resolve valuation disputes within three days because of demurrage implications. The current arrangement whereby appeals are made to the customs headquarters is not consistent with the principle of natural justice. The Nigeria Customs should not be a judge in its own case.

“These are not the best of times for the economy and the private sector. Prevailing macro-economic issues, triggered by the slump in global oil prices, have created profound challenges for the public and private sectors of the economy. However, in responding to the current situation, it is important for government and its agencies to avoid actions that would further complicate matters for investors in the economy.”

On access to foreign exchange through the Retail Dutch Auction System (RDAS) window, LCCI said “We share the concern of the CBN about the pressure on the foreign exchange market and the need to ensure exchange rate stability. However, reports reaching us indicate that many transactions that are not on the exclusion list have been denied access to the RDAS window. This has caused serious shocks and dislocations to many businesses, with most of them thrown instantly into loss positions.” 

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