There are indications that the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) may soon revert to the use of benchmark as National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu, disclosed on Wednesday that the association is working with the Service to re-establish the application of benchmark in customs documentation.
Members of the association kicked when the benchmark policy was introduced in 2012.
Shittu said that NCS sought the input of ANLCA to fine-tune the old benchmark values which, according to him, would be thereafter be displayed for importers and customs agents to consult before making their declarations.
He said: “We have been going through the benchmark that has been given to us by the Nigeria Customs Service for our own input before they now have a benchmark that will be on the website and can be accessed by importers, customs officers and agents. Once you make your declaration in tandem with the benchmark no FOU (Federal Operations Unit) can stop you anywhere.”
Shittu told SHIPS & PORTS DAILY that the benchmark would be an agreement between the ncs and HIS association with a view to “looking for averages of selected countries and ensuring that importers pay appropriate duty”.
He said: “We are an importing nation and the federal government wants to maximize their income through customs duty. And how do you get that? Rather than have somebody just get up to say this is the value on cargo which you must pay as duty, there is a benchmark. So you know that if you are bringing a 20 foot container from China or Brazil this is how much you are paying. But people have been circumventing the system that is why they were against it. For example the ETLS regime, people will bring in goods from China dump it in Ghana repackage it and bring it in as ECOWAS cargo, you know Nigerians are very clever people. So even if you go to Ghana we will track you to Ghana and with the benchmark you will pay appropriate duty.”
He also linked the new customs clearance process of Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) to the envisaged benchmark regime.
“By the time we fine-tune the process of PAAR there will be not need to raise DN (Debit Note) because values that are declared meets the benchmark of customs and everything will be done in the open,” the ANLCA boss stated.
SHIPS & PORTS DAILY reported yesterday that factional National Secretary of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Ben Ndee, also advocated return of the benchmark policy to curb the excesses of customs officers.