The Federal Government yesterday said 40 per cent of smuggled vehicles that find their way into the country are stolen.
This is aside the fact that 45 per cent of the vehicles that enter the country are smuggled annually.
To address this menace, the government has launched pilot phase of the new National Vehicle Registry (VERG) automated gateway portal in Lagos State.
It is intended to increase national revenue, curb smuggling and other criminal activities.
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, spoke at the grand finale of the sensitization seminar on VERG in Abuja.
The minister explained that VERG is the centralized database for all vehicles in Nigeria using their unique Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN), which stores detailed vehicular information such as specifications, ownership, and history of each vehicle in Nigeria.
Under this system, vehicle owners in the country are required to register their vehicle using their VIN on the VREG portal.
Ahmed said the establishment of this registry “became necessary to tackle the menace of customs duty evasion, vehicle theft, vehicle-related crimes and ineffective vehicle insurance coverage, among others”.
Ahmed said figures from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that 45 per cent of vehicles are smuggled into Nigeria annually; thus, evading duty payment. She noted that 40 per cent of the smuggled vehicles are stolen.
The finance minister lamented that a case study found that Nigeria was the hub of stolen vehicles as VIN of vehicles in the country were usually unregistered, consequently, vehicles within the shores of Nigeria cannot be traced.
According to Ahmed, “in a bid to address these challenges, the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning launched the National Vehicle Registry (VREG), which is a national repository of vehicular information that seeks to provide a singular platform through which all relevant Agencies shall reference vehicular data with a view of ascertaining ownership and value information, capturing vehicular exchanges and utilizing the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of all vehicles in Nigeria”.
Additional value she said “is also accruable to the Federal and State Governments and related Agencies via this policy. Through this platform today, we are pleased to inform that the pilot phase of this project has commenced at the Nigeria Customs Service Kirikiri Light Terminal”.
She stated that VERG will ensure enforceability of penalties placed on vehicles by regulators across board.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Aliyu Ahmed, said those who will enforce the implementation and realization of the VREG goal are – Vehicle Inspection Office (VIO); Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and state revenue system.
Others are National Insurance Commission (NAICOM); Nigerian Police Force (NPF) and the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA); Nigeria Customs Service (NCS); Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN); Transportation Commissioners Forum, among others.
Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Hammed Ali, represented by Galadima Saidu said the NCS is committed to implementing VERG as it will boost the service’s revenue and improve national security.