Agents withdraw service as Customs begins implementation of 35% levy on imported vehicles

There was palpable tension at the PTML command of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) yesterday as clearing agents and freight forwarders withdrew their service over what they described as hurried implementation of the 35 percent levy on imported used vehicles by the NCS. But Customs authorities said the implementation was not on used vehicles popularly known as ‘tokunbo’ but on brand new imported vehicles.

Speaking to our correspondent, the Chapter Chairman of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Bola Adeniran said the agents were taken aback when they got to work to see that the 35 percent level had been inputed into the Customs system.

Adeniran said the implementation of the 35 percent level was scheduled to take off in January 2014 but was hurriedly implemented by the Customs high command without consulting or informing them.

He said, “Agents are not satisfied with the 35 percent levy that was hurriedly implemented because the government said it will start by January but it was a surprise when we all came to work this morning to see that the Customs has already started implementing it.

“We were not informed neither were we told because we believe if something is to happen they should inform us because we are the revenue collectors not Customs but no one told us anything but when we withdrew our service, the Area Controller came over here to address us.

“It was when we withdrew our service that the Controller came out but we are not comfortable because they are hiding something from us because they said it is for new car with zero speedometer but we are asking the Controller to tell us what he meant which he has not done.”

When contacted, Public Relations Officer of the PTML Customs command, Steve Okonma said that the command was only implementing the 35 percent levy on brand new vehicles and not used vehicles.

“The implementation of 35 percent levy was on new and not used vehicles because implementation for used vehicles will be next year.

“What we are implementing is for new, CAC addressed them but they are not satisfied. I don’t know what they want us to do. They said they have punched and we tell them to come and we will help them but they are not satisfied but the implementation is for new and not used vehicles,” Okonma stated.

On the sudden implementation of the levy without prior notice to importers and agents, the Customs image maker said, “Even our command was not informed, we just woke up and saw it and we told them it was for new vehicles and not used vehicles, because we know agents are more concerned about used vehicles.”

He however said that the proof that the implementation was for new vehicles was evident in the HS code.

But Public Relations Officer, PTML chapter of ANLCA, Adeola Ganny said Customs authorities at PTML deceived agents by giving them the wrong HS Code.

“87032329.29 was the HS code they asked us to use, the code was not meant for vehicles and if used, it will give wrong valuation that will lead to penalty. The HS code we are using before was 87033212.20 for car and jeep and 87043320.00 for trucks but the HS code for jeeps and cars mow carry 25 percent levy while that of trucks and vans carry 10 percent without decreasing the CIF,” he stated.

He described the sudden implementation of the levy as a ploy to meet Customs’ revenue target of N1.2 trillion for this year.

With the implementation of the 35% levy in addition to 35% import duty, the effective tariff on imported vehicles now stands at 70%.

Implementation of the new vehicle tariff is part of the Federal Government’s new national automotive policy which aims to discourage importation of vehicles in favour of local assembly. Many stakeholders and interest groups have however condemned hurried implementation of the policy.

The National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) last week described the policy as anti-people with the potential of increasing the hardship faced by Nigerians.

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